As I’m sure we are all well aware, regular exercise is a key contributor to health as a whole. As well as providing the potential to support us physically, by strengthening bones, gaining muscle / flexibility and managing weight, making movement a priority can work to manage / improve our mental wellbeing too. From mood and energy boosting benefits to improved sleep quality - there are so many reasons to make movement more of a habit.
Many post lockdown conversations suggest people are finding it tricky to get back into regular routine with exercise (and I can 100% resonate).
With the closure of gyms throughout the year leading to many cancelling memberships, and the understandable lack of motivation to move with everything else to juggle – it’s no wonder we’ve found movement more difficult.
The rise in online workouts and communal 5k challenges have been great, however motivation to engage can depend on the type of person you are, the exercise you enjoy and your current personal circumstances.
It’s important to remember, these last 18 months have been different for everyone, and chances are a daily run / online workout may not have been top of the priority list. So don’t beat yourself up if you feel out of the exercise loop, we’ve had a lot to contend with!
September is on the door step, and as often this month is seen as a bit of a fresh start, it could be a great opportunity to get your movement mojo back!
A few things to consider before you get started:
Make it enjoyable
There’s no point in forcing an exercise that you don’t enjoy. It can end in counting down the seconds until the exercise is over and chances are you won’t feel motivated to do it again. There are so many different and exciting ways to move your body - prioritise one that you enjoy and you will be more likely to engage again.
Be creative and give new things a go – you don’t know until you try!
Have a plan
If it’s a run, select a podcast / playlist ahead of time and plan a route which you enjoy.
If it’s a gym sesh, what’s your focus? Making a plan will help to keep your head in the game and save any unnecessary time wasting during the workout. Mix things up in your weekly workout plan to keep things exciting.
Is it realistic?
Pick a time of day which works for you and fits into your daily routine. Try not to overdo it, sometimes working out once or twice a week can end up being more habitual than forcing a daily work out which isn’t going to be realistic long term.
If you’ve got back to back meetings – could you squeeze in a lunchtime walk? Kids to look after? How could you get them involved? Motivation to exercise will not be sustainable unless it fits with your lifestyle.
Find a work out buddy
For motivation, accountability and to make it more fun!
That way you can do a work out and socialise at the same time.
Exercising is one thing, but exercising in nature is a double whammy! Movement is a mindful activity which can help you to switch off from your daily stresses and have some much needed headspace. Because being in or looking at nature works to reduce stress levels, the combination of the two can be even more beneficial. Find a walking / running route you enjoy, drag your yoga mat in the garden or try some wild swimming and see if you notice a difference.
Create a supportive environment
If you have your yoga mat rolled out at the ready, or your gym kit prepared, you’re more likely to engage. Design an environment which is supportive of your wellness goals.
Having a little weight station in the corner of a room, or packing your gym bag the night before are examples of things which will make daily movement feel easier.
Consider a few back up ideas for when things don’t go to plan e.g a saved home workout as a replacement for a run on a rainy day.
Ladies, consider your cycle
We are individual and how one person feels during their cycle is different to another, however generally menstruation can impact our energy for training.
Our cycle is split into 2 parts - the follicular phase and the luteal phase with ovulation in the middle. The first part of the follicular phase is our period so naturally our energy / motivation to work out may be low. That said a little gentle movement at this time could ease some menstrual symptoms.
In the lead up to ovulation and as oestrogen peaks (2nd part of our follicular phase), we have more energy and this could be a good time for more high intensity training/weight baring exercise.
As we head into the later stage of our luteal phase in preparation for menstruation, again we can see a dip in energy and performance due to hormones. Don’t force it and be mindful of your menses - this could be a good time to welcome rest.
Listen to your body and move mindfully. Although regular movement is so important, don’t push yourself. Over exercising or forcing yourself to take part in daily workouts when you are feeling really tired will only cause more stress on your body.
Consider which exercise feels best for you each day and prioritise moving in a way which suits these individual needs. Work to find the balance between motivating yourself to exercise and welcoming a break when you know your body needs it. If you’re lacking energy it could be as simple as a 10 minute morning stretch or going for a gentle walk – trust your body and do what you can, sometimes missing a workout is more beneficial.
Prioritising movement can help to reduce stress levels, lower inflammation and promote good immunity. It can work to improve our health both physically and mentally. Hopefully these tips have helped to motivate you to consider a movement which works for you, feels safe and fits in with individual lifestyle and goals. Good luck!
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
The ‘Wellness with Anna’ philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health. Often, the tools needed to make a lasting change are already in your toolbox. I offer client led guidance in order to support the progress of an individual working to meet their personal wellness goals. I will not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness change, but direct, listen and support development. We work together on a journey to make health a main priority, both physically and mentally.