Happy Habits: Exercise and Move Your Body
I’m sure you can probably agree with me, that the people you couldn’t motivate to get moving are suddenly desperate to get their hour of outside activity in. Even though the current situation is evoking negative emotions and uncertainty for many of us, the silver lining is that it is making so many people want to exercise more.
You already know that exercising leads to so many amazing health benefits. From improving your mood, quality of sleep, levels of stress and anxiety, there are a number of great reasons to exercise. Simply put, the more we exercise, the happier and more satisfied we are with our lives. This is because physical activity increases the endorphins we have and creates other feel-good emotions. Exercising simply makes us feel good and fosters positive thoughts and emotions.
But despite our best intentions, many of us struggle to move more and get out of our sedentary habits. If this applies to you, you’re not alone. Whether it’s our lack of self-confidence and ability to stay motivated to keep going, or our busy schedules and heath conditions becoming a barrier and making exercise challenging.
Whatever is it that is currently stopping you, here are 10 ways to make exercise less daunting and more fun:
1. Focus on the way you feel
Workout to feel good and not just to look good. Focus on the emotional benefits of exercise and the positive effects it has on your stress levels, mental clarity and overall happiness. The more you focus on the mood-boosting benefits of exercise, the more likely you are to begin to actually look forward to it. You’ll begin paying attention to your body, instead of treating it mindlessly. And when that happens, your energy rises, your mind sharpens and your body flourishes.
2. Find something you enjoy
Whether that’s running, spinning, walking or just dancing. Making exercise fun makes it better, easier and more likely to be taken up regularly. Add music to your home workouts, set virtual challenges with your friends or get involved in a live online class with your favourite influencer. Just have fun with it and find something that you enjoy and that makes you excited to continue.
3. Set a goal
A lot of challenge events have been cancelled, and so have those social events we were preparing for. But this shouldn’t stop us from still setting a goal and working towards it. Achievable goals help us to stay motivated and on track. Try to make them realistic such as getting in extra steps each day, or exercising for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week, rather than for an hour each day.
4. Grow a support group
Belonging to a team and exercising in a group has powerful benefits to our overall health. It acts as a motivator and makes getting healthy social. But right now, whilst social distancing, our ability to physically workout in groups isn’t possible. That doesn’t mean we can’t still grow support groups and encourage each other to exercise. Keep each other going by sharing fitness goals over WhatsApp, setting times to virtually workout together or simply sending fitness videos you think will be a benefit.
5. Utilise the thought time
Focus on what’s great as you exercise. Walk in awe of how fortunate you are to be outside. Maybe it’s that you can listen to the birds, have the technology to read this post or a pillow to rest your head on at night. Listen to a positive podcast whilst you walk, or simply focus on your capability to move your body as you stretch. Focus on what’s good in your life and allow the mental benefits of exercise to encourage you to recognise your abilities and keep going.
6. Adopt more incidental activity
Incidental activity refers to small daily activities that add up throughout the day. Once this is all over, let’s vow to drive less, walk more, get off the train a stop earlier, take the stairs instead of the escalator and generally move more. Let’s look for as many opportunities as possible to be active throughout the day. From small things, big things grow.
7. Monitor progress
Take note of the simple milestones you’re achieving such as doing more repetitions of an exercise, increasing the intensity of it or getting more steps in now that the office is closed. Focus on these small wins in order to encourage you to keep going. Whilst seemingly insignificant in the moment, overtime these small changes add up to great progress.
8. Remove the guilt
It isn’t important how much you exercise, but that you remember that you can and that you get to. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a few exercise sessions, or aren’t able to attend the gym or your usual class right now. Adopt a mindset of acknowledging that life might need you to be flexible at times and reduce the feelings of guilt you harbour when this happens. Always focus on the positive changes you are making, or the physical changes you have managed to achieve this week.
9. Avoid the comparison trap
There will always be someone who’s fitter, or faster, or stronger than you. But focus on yourself and stop comparing yourself to them. Exercise for yourself and to achieve your goals. Adopt positive self-talk and recognise that by exercising, you’re taking care of your mind, body and overall well-being,
10. Reward yourself
Whether that’s with a night of self-care by indulging in the bath with your favourite music, treating yourself to a hard-earned glass of wine at the end of a week, or promising yourself a massage once this craziness is all over and you can venture out again. Rewards can be very motivating and help you to stick to your workout plan.
Exercise is a major stress booster and also one of the cheapest ways to reduce our anxiety levels. Especially right now when we can’t go out, we are getting more creative with our workouts. We are walking more, by actually using that hour we’ve been advised we are allowed. And we are participating in YouTube workouts and the live exercises our favourite fitness experts are putting out. This is proof that expensive gym memberships, trendy workout clothes and fancy equipment are not necessary and shouldn’t become a barrier for us. There are no excuses!
What changes are you making to move more, feel better and live happier?