We’ve now been in lock down long enough to have heard some sort of advice about keeping fit when we can’t exercise conventionally, with countless videos on the internet showcasing how you can turn your house into a virtual gymnasium. Whether that be trying some fancy body weight exercises, running up and down the stairs for no real purpose or using bottles of wine as weights to train whilst managing to not pour the entire contents directly into our mouths. These videos and live streams look and sound great in between binge watching TV shows,sitting on the sofa all day in our PJ’s, eating snacks and drinking more than usual. But, actually giving the exercises a try? That’s a completely different story. Heavens no! I’m not fit enough to exercise yet.
Even though we might not feel able to even attempt these sort of exercises right now, it doesn’t mean we don’t wish we could. It certainly doesn’t mean we want to miss out on the benefits an active lifestyle brings, such as having more energy, more confidence, better health and looking in the mirror and liking the person looking back at us. But, where we are compared to where we want to be just seems so far away.
Does this sound familiar? If so, this blog might be for you. Today, I’d like to talk about what is possibly the hardest part of keeping fit – Getting Started. Below, are some tips about how you can get things moving on the way to becoming the you you’ve always wanted to be:
Do something you enjoy – Every week there seems to be a new next big thing. In terms of exercise claiming to be the best type for getting in shape, losing fat, running a marathon and flying to the moon, all in one! But, what does “best” really mean? The best for one person will often not be the best for someone else, so the key is to find the activity which best suits you. Ultimately, you will always be much more likely to do something you enjoy rather than something you don’t, so choose something that you like doing. Hate squats but like gardening? Hate burpees but enjoy walking? Hate cycling but love dancing? Simply, think of the physical activities you most enjoy and do them more often. You may even rekindle a love for something you used to do but haven’t been able to find the time for in years.
Be realistic, be successful – We can all have preconceived ideas of what exercise should look and feel like, often comparing our performance to others or even ourselves from years gone by. This can lead to us to attempting too much too soon, pushing too hard and finding it all far too difficult. Will power then starts to fade and we start to question whether it’s really worth the effort. This is generally because we all too often set unrealistic standards for ourselves, almost setting ourselves up to fail before we’ve even started. The key to getting fitter isn’t how hard you push or how long your workout lasts on the rare occasion you attempt one; it’s about being consistent and sticking to it.
Try setting yourself almost laughably easy goals. Maybe try and stand up for 5 minutes every hour, walk the dog every day or stand up then sit down 10 times in the ad breaks. If you’re less than 80% confident you’ll achieve the task, make it easier. Setting these achievable goals will help to break down preconceived sense of failure associated with exercise and replace it with a sense of achievement, meaning you are much more likely to keep doing it.
Rest and Rejuvenate – It may seem strange on a blog about being more active to talk about, well, not being active, but there is method behind the madness, I assure you. With many of using lockdown; working from home or not at all; each day seeming no different to any other, it can be all too easy for us to fall out of our regular sleeping pattern. With no early alarm in the morning it can be tempting watch one more episode of the latest box set, then one more, then another and so on. Once we have gotten into this cycle, it can be difficult to break.
Unfortunately,going to bed late and getting up later than usual can massively affect the hormones which get us up in the morning, our stress levels and our energy levels,meaning our natural body clock needs to go to the repair shop. This can lead us to a feeling of tiredness and lethargy during the day, meaning we are less likely to be active and more likely to binge on unhealthy foods.
Try sticking to a regular sleep pattern and set yourself a bedtime. If you sometimes struggle to get to sleep straight away, try avoiding looking at a screen an hour before going to bed. This can help your brain to switch off and aid you getting to sleep quicker.
Although we all know exercising will help increase energy levels, having the energy to get started is a common barrier. I always recommend people to exercise at the time you feel like you have most energy, which is different for everyone. But, getting adequate rest and having a regular sleep pattern will give you the best chance of feeling energised enough to give it ago.
If you want support to start your fitness journey we'd love to help, https://www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk/lincolnshire-residents
Chris Laming, Physical Activity Practitioner
April 27, 2020