What’s your relationship like with exercise at the minute? What historically has exercise meant to you? What exercise did you do in the last week?
I used to find that how I felt about exercise was rooted in how I felt about it as a teenager. With my only reference point being PE at school. Cold cross country runs and feelings of inadequacy. The secret is not to compare yourself to others – do what you can and what you feel comfortable with. And crucially – find something you actually enjoy! There will be something out there!
You might well find that you already do more exercise than you think. Low level stuff like gardening, washing the car, walking the dog and pegging the washing out. These are all good things. They involve activity and they involve stretching – both great things. Maybe we need you to push it a little further and get a little breathless? The recommendation of 20 minutes per day still holds good – so we are not talking about hours in the gym or becoming a marathon runner – fine as those things are if they are right for you.
Exercise is a pleasurable activity… honest. Engaging in it releases
dopamine – the body’s feel good hormone. Dopamine deficiency is shown to have links to depression so the more of it you have coursing around your body the better. Exercise is also great at mitigating against the effects of stress by ‘using up’ cortisol and adrenaline that are produced by our fight or flight response. These chemicals prime you for physical action but when the stressful event is occurring with you sat at your desk you don’t burn them off. And too much of them has a negative effect on your health and overall well-being.
Gives you faster processing
Gives you faster reaction times
Clears you head
Makes you more effective at planning
Gives you better short term memory performance
Gives you more self control
A study by Bristol University found that a 20 minute walk at lunch time could enhance mood and motivation by 41% and could improve the ability to deal with stress by 20%. A Sit Less Move More program evaluated by Pulg-Ribera and colleagues in 2017 noted improvements in staff retention in the work place, less sickness, more mindful work, and a reduction in stress. Now that’s good stuff!
Make a plan! What are you going to do and when are you going to do it?
Start small and take incremental steps… start with a 10 minute walk and take it from there.
Write down your plan… writing things down enhances the chances of them actually happening.
Exercise with someone else – it helps motivation.
Tell other people what you’re doing… there’s evidence if we ‘go public’ we’re more likely to do what you say.
And most importantly find something you enjoy
And Just Do It (as Nike would say!)
I have to tell you speak to your doctor if you have any health conditions or haven’t exercised for a long time! I’m not a doctor! Take advice if you feel you need to. This advice is given in good faith based on my own personal experience and reading. Take care.