Woohoo! We’ve finally been given the green light. Yes my friends, the gyms and pools are opening.
And not a moment too soon in my opinion.
I, like most of those who exercise regularly, have been going slightly mad these past 4 months. It doesn’t matter that I bought half a private gym’s-worth of equipment, it’s just not the same as physically travelling to a gym. The preparation of the bag you take, the planning of what/how you will train when you’re in there, the socialising. OMG, actually speaking with people who aren’t members of my family or friends?! How will I cope, will I have forgotten how to have a natural conversation with strangers? Let’s hope not.
However, I appreciate there’s a wealth of people out there that didnt exercise much before (if at all) and are now thinking, “maybe now is the time to start jogging or join a gym? I have more time on my hands and Ive been a bit lazy while working from home”.
Now believe me, I understand how frustrating it is for those who are used to exercising regularly and having an array of equipment to use. But for those that haven’t done much exercise prior to lockdown and you’re thinking about starting a new exercise regimen, its important not to get overexcited. I love your enthusiasm but we need to ensure there won’t be any injuries or worse.
Here’s some things I want you to think about before embarking on a ridiculous programme that Arnie or Mo Farah would be impressed with.
Now I’m guessing this one wasn’t a shock to you. Chances are your diet hasn’t been the best….a few too many trips to the fridge/snack cupboard perhaps? And you may also not have been eating proper meals either. Quite often poor diet can affect our choices in other areas so it’s a vicious circle as the desire to exert yourself even a small amount is diminished. But remember – by not fuelling your body with nutritious food, how do you expect to have the energy to exercise or indeed do very much at all?
‘Start with a Song’
If you weren’t very active prior to stopping exercising, then this point is for you. Just like ‘toothbrush songs’ get kids to brush their teeth for the right length of time/correctly, there’s motivational music for adults to workout with. One of the many benefits with exercising to music is dissociation. It either distracts you or it motivates you to keep pushing. That’s why every gym always has music playing, not just to drown out the noise of people breathing heavily.
Try it. Dance, walk, skip, jump, do pull ups, press ups, burpees (urgh, who likes burpees?) or whatever takes your fancy. Eevn if it’s for just one track to start with. You can then build it up.
Don’t Start With Traditional Forms of Exercise
Not all exercise needs to be, well, ‘exercising’. Exercise is just any activity that raises your heart rate beyond its normal range. Basically, anything you do that makes you sweat, makes your heart beat faster and causes you to breathe heavy – is exercise. And in some cases you don’t even need to sweat, it can be just exerting yourself more than usual.
So what might that look like?
- Playing rough with the kids, or the dog!
- Gaming/Online Fitness: Go skating, roller blading, cycling or skiing, right in your living room using the console.
- Get a ball – play keepie uppies or dribble round some stones or plant pots.
- Try a gentle form of yoga (such as yin yoga) which aims to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility.
If you have been working from home at a desk (makeshift or otherwise) then you will have tight hip flexors and weak glute muscles (the ones that move your upper leg back and forward) which will cause lower back discomfort over the long term. So ensure you are strengthening and stretching these areas.
Don’t Watch The Ads!
Now I don’t mean just skip through them which we all like to do when watching something on catch-up.
If you’re one to use the excuse of not having time (and it is an excuse if you’re being honest), consider that the average TV show has three commercial breaks, averaging 3 minutes each. If you have the time to watch one show a day, you have time to slip in an easy 9-minutes of exercising daily just by getting up off the sofa.
If you don’t have a gym mat, make your rug work double duty and use that. There’s plenty of exercises perfect for the ad breaks such as press ups in various forms, plank position, air squats, bridge pose etc. Pick some, design your own routine and burn calories instead of your eyes.
Have A Good Reason To Do Activities
Whatever sport or exercise routine you decide on, start for the right reasons. Reasons that you know you’ll be able to stick with. You want to be able to keep up with the children/grandchildren or a new boisterous puppy! Or it may be to improve your health to prevent heart attacks. The reason should be to improve you for you, not for anyone else. Everyone needs a good ‘why’ before they’ll be able to make any life lasting changes. Otherwise you fall off the wagon shortly after starting. So please take some time to list reasons for starting to exercise.
Pick something you know you’ll enjoy and start doing that. Something easy, that can be done quickly or at least time flies when you’re doing it. Like an hour-long dance class that feels so good you don’t even realize it’s been an hour.
When you take up any exercise that you can get into the ‘zone’ with, time flies because you can only get into the zone when your heart’s truly in it. And that’s very strongly linked to the state of mind you’re in.
Get back into exercising gradually, doing activities you enjoy, for good reasons that you’ve given serious thought to. Over time as you begin to feel healthier, you’ll naturally build a tolerance and can move into more moderate intensity exercises or increase the duration, or maybe both.
The important thing is to start somewhere. The less strenuous, the easier it’ll be to ease your body back into a healthy active lifestyle.