As we’re in the New Year’s Resolution time of year; let’s have a look at getting and keeping active.
PE has a lot to answer for. If it brings to mind freezing changing rooms and slogging through muddy fields then it’s likely you’re not alone in those thoughts. The inspiration that PE was meant to offer a future generation to be active and stay healthy is all too often sadly lacking. It doesn’t have to be this way; exercise can = activity which can = something YOU enjoy.
When jobs were predominantly manual, when kids climbed trees (more often) and cars were a luxury, physical activity was a regular and normal part of life. With modern day progress has come a requirement for us to go out of our way to achieve even slightly raised heartbeats, which is a shame at best and harmful at worst; it is after all, what our bodies are naturally designed to do and many of the health epidemics – obesity, back pain, diabetes, heart disease – sweeping the modern world can be directly linked in part to our modern reduction in physical activity.
Most people KNOW the facts and don’t need convincing that exercise will do them good. But directly opposing this knowledge are the often negative perceptions attached to exercise and the fact that many of the benefits – feeling better, living longer, being healthier – can seem abstract and indirect and don’t really cut it when faced with a comfy sofa, an unfinished box set or simply less effort expended.
It’s possible that we’re biologically programmed to not exert ourselves unless there’s an immediate, tangible reason to do so, then there are the biases and beliefs that we’ve acquired over a lifetime and any previous negative experiences of exercise – PE yes I’m talking about you – make skipping out of the door with a huge smile in place something that even the most enthusiastic gym bunnies can struggle to achieve.
But remember, it may not be as involved as you think. Guidelines recommend: 150 mins/week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 mins/week of vigorous aerobic activity. That’s less than 30mins/day of ‘moderate’ activity. “Moderate” means brisk walking; housework; gentle cycling (10-12mph). Moderate isn’t all that difficult to achieve and may well already be part of your day. And if not, with a little thought it probably could be. Walk or cycle instead of driving? Clean the windows or mow the lawn? ‘Vigorous’ activity requires a little more effort but make that a walk up Cleeve Hill, ride the bike a little quicker or some serious garden action and you’re there.
If you enjoy it your brain will remember that enjoyment, and feed it forward into anticipation (just like trying to do something you don’t enjoy). If you don’t enjoy it, bin it; don’t let negative associations getting a grip – you’re unlikely to stick with it anyway – and save your precious time for something else.
Not sure what you enjoy? Then be a doer; make an effort, have a think and investigate – remember it doesn’t actually have to be something that hard to do or incorporate into your life and it certainly doesn’t have to be hockey / rugby / running / swimming or whichever sport it was that put you off in the first place. Try a dance class, borrow a dog for an hour, take the kids for a bike-ride and picnic (or simply explore the pubs in surrounding villages), volunteer at @Tewkesbury Nature Reserve, start Walking Rugby at @Tewkesbury RFC maybe pop down to the sailing club and try messing about on the water or join a friend who keeps blathering on about their Zumba, Aquafit, Pilates or Taekwon-Do… the possibilities are endless. We will all enjoy different things – find what works for you and own it; and accept that what you enjoy may not be the first thing you try.
Start Small = Last Long
If you haven’t broken into a jog since you were a slim, fit youngster then any past ‘10 miles before breakfast’ are likely to be an unrealistic target currently, leading to pain and injury if you manage even half that. Be realistic about what you think you can achieve injury-free and then reduce it slightly. If you’re not sure what you can manage then simply start very small and gradually bump up – miles, minutes, reps – from there. E.g. follow a ‘CouchTo5K’ plan to get into running, gently and realistically increasing your mileage and letting your body avoid overuse injuries by becoming gradually fitter and stronger.
You only have to prove it to YOU
Do whatever activity floats YOUR boat and makes YOU feel better and happier overall – remember, a brisk walk to the shops / chasing the grandkids / gardening is likely enough. There IS some effort required to get organised, get out the door and partake but choose wisely and the overall effect will be a fitter, healthier and crucially HAPPIER you.
If you’re really struggling with motivation then consider where your mental health is at and if you think you need a helping hand, see your GP. There is no perfect way to train, no one size fits all; draw your own map and see where it takes you.
Chiropractic &/ Massage can play a huge part in tackling your physical niggles and advising and helping you get healthier, fitter, stronger and consequently happier. We’re here if you need us!
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