It’s always a bit scary doing something for the first time and for me, writing a post about exercise is no exception. I’m concerned that there’s a danger that I might come across as smug or patronising and I would hate that. The written word doesn’t allow for the communication of the sub-text and facial expressions that talking to someone face to face does but I hope that the gist of what I mean comes through enough!
I know that not everyone is born to run but I’m pretty sure that we were all born to move. In some way, shape or form, we feel better and our bodies respond well to getting a bit out of breath and a bit hot and sweaty a few times a week.
The problem for many is first, finding out what we might like doing and secondly, working out how to fit it in to a busy life. I believe that they are the two main obstacles and that once they are overcome, the key to exercising for life is answered (subject to a bit of strapping down of things that bounce around, of course) so I thought that might be a good place to start
Re the first question, if you want to stick to any form of exercise, you have to enjoy it. Maybe not at first but it has to have legs. (OK, so it took me 30 years to really love running but I think that’s at the very furthest end of end of the spectrum.)
So what did you do when you were younger that you loved? Were you good at team sports, athletics, dancing, gym or cross country? What made you feel good and what did you have fun doing? If you want something new take a look on YouTube – Kettlebells. zumba, HIIT training, ballet based exercises, yoga – it’s all there for the taking and in the comfort of you own home (so perhaps no strapping down of things that bounce around would be required after all, which is a bonus). Pair up with a friend and go for a power walk a few times a week or sign up for a mud run. They’re brilliant – more like being a kid than exercise.
Re the second question, how do you find time to do it when life is so busy? Well there is no magic answer, exercise is just one of those things that you have to prioritse or else it won’t happen. After the essentials of working and taking care of whomever you need to take care of, exercise has to come first. So if that means that a couple of nights a week you don’t all eat together as a family, so be it. If it means sneaking out early on a Saturday morning, so be it. If it means foregoing a favourite TV programme, so be it. If it means that a particular cupboard stays messy or you sit on a bit of the washing rather than ironing it, so be it. That’s not being selfish as everyone around you will benefit from you being fit and healthy.
Everyone feels weary at the end of a long day but there’s a difference between that and being literally too exhausted to exercise. Exercise, without a doubt, energises you. A friend who works nights, weekends and on calls and who earlier this year started out with the “Couch to 5k” App has said that paradoxically her 5.30am (5.30am I know!) runs make her feel more energised. A barrister friend runs then too. They both make me look like a wimp!
So I hope that’s given a little food for thought. Do you have any exercise aims or goals for this coming year? However small they seem, however scary it may all seem, everything is a step in the right direction and I already think you’re amazing for it.