The Second Pillar - Incorporating Movement in Your Life to Benefit Emotional & Physical Wellbeing
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
In a previous post (here) I introduced the concept of the Four Pillars of health, of which exercise/movement is one.
Modern lifestyle has a very sedentary nature to it and all of us can benefit from incorporating daily movement into our lives to improve not only our physical health but also our metal health. It doesn’t have to be hours pounding the streets in running gear or sweating it out at the gym, it can be as simple as incorporating a few movements into your daily routine – for example doing some stretches or exercises whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.
Any new habit may have challenging beginnings, but in time, nearly anything can become habitual. In this case, we're talking about a habit that has incredible benefits, so let's see how we can help ourselves to get moving every day!
1. Schedule it. The number one reason people claim they don't exercise regularly is a lack of time. We all make time for a variety of other things every day: eating meals, taking a shower, driving to and from work, television, and more. So make an appointment with yourself to get the exercise your body needs to be as healthy as it can possibly be. Research shows that if we commit to writing it in our diaries/calendars then we’re more likely to actually follow through and do it.
2. Find a workout buddy. The number two reason people say that they don't exercise is boredom or loneliness, so doing something with a good friend or our significant other can be really helpful – as well as having some company, there is the added bonus of mutual support. If you don’t have someone that you can share an activity with you could perhaps look for virtual support using social media – for example, there are lots of different support groups on Facebook.
· A workout partner can also help us feel a greater sense of responsibility; no one likes to let other people down. It's easier to think, "I'll do it tomorrow," when we know there isn't someone depending on us. Creating a sense of accountability can be a real motivator!
3. Change it up. Come up with a variety of activities, for example you could perhaps swim one day, walk the next, and do some serious gardening the day after that. So think about everything the world has to offer and keep yourself entertained as well. Joining a sports club could take care of a lot of your exercise needs and also provide social contact as well.
4. Take it easy (especially in the beginning) - slow and steady gets there in the end. Perhaps you remember school and the unsympathetic sports masters who made you run cross-country in the cold and rain, pushing you on and on when you felt ready to collapse in a heap in the mud (I certainly do!). Exercising doesn’t have to be a form of torture - as long as you're getting comfortably tired by the end of your workout, you're on the right track.
· You don't need to finish your workout on the ground in a breathless heap. High-intensity exercise is great for conditioning, but less intense options are still beneficial for your health!
5. Make it easy to exercise. Driving halfway across town in rush hour traffic is enough for anyone to find an excuse to skip a day. The truth is that a health club really isn't necessary. Many parks these days have exercise equipment for public use, and many strength building exercises can be done using just your own body weight. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Make the most of the outdoors – you’ll be topping up your vitamin D at the same time!
· People in the military get into great shape with little more than calisthenics and running. Make it easy enough to exercise that you don't have a good excuse not to head out the door. And in fact, you don't even need to go out...Dr Chatterjee has a great little "Kitchen workout" that you can do whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. It uses simple body weight strength building exercises that aren't complicated and will quickly make a difference to your health.
6. Track your progress. It's a lot easier for us to stay interested and motivated when we can see some real progress. Fortunately, progress comes quickly at the beginning of any exercise program. So devise a test of your fitness that you can do occasionally. It can be simple, like how many pushups you can do, or how long it takes you to walk a mile, and then track over time how you are improving - I suspect you will surprise yourself (I certainly have when I do this!).
Exercising daily is a great addition to include your life. It can be challenging to get into the habit, but once the initial period has passed you will start to form a habit and it will get easier. You'll be healthier, feel better, and look better. Good luck!
Get out there with a friend (even a four legged one) and have some fun every day!