By Angela Heath
Exercise and Nutrition Scientist and Clinical Pilates Instructor
Having studied the science of human movement and nutrition at University, I could sit here all day and discuss the importance of regular exercise. But really, the keynote I want to share is that movement does not have to be some over-complicated, time consuming chore if you find something you enjoy.
Enjoying exercise, sounds like some crazy gimmick, right? We, as humans, have an instinct to find the easiest solution to things, we are innately lazy so to speak. So why not beat us at our own game, by finding ways to incorporate regular movement without labelling it a “must do”. Changing this mindset allows the thought of exercise as punishment to slip away with ease.
Three tools to implement for an active lifestyle you love:
1. Find movement you love
Hitting you with the cliché’s straight off the bat I know, but it can make instrumental difference to finding an exercise routine that will either last a lifetime, or the duration of a two-week challenge. I cannot emphasise this enough, exercise does not always have to be the sweatiest, most gruelling high intensity session that the industry loves to smack in our faces. It can be as simple as a paced walk, stretching, riding your bike to the farmer’s market.
You are not always going to love the same exercise as your friends or partner, find a way of moving your body regularly, [a minimum of 150minutes a week to follow best practice research], that is enjoyable and exciting to you.
If you love hitting the pavement and running, do that, if you love the mindfulness of a yoga flow or Pilates burn, do that, and if you do enjoy that full-on HIIT session, do that. Find a way of moving that suits you and your lifestyle, to ensure it becomes an “I get to” over a “must do”, and the glorious happy chemicals our brain produces post-exercise will be added incentive to continue this regular routine.
2. Make it social
Sharing movement with people in your social group is a great tool to 1. make it feel twice as productive; socialising and exercising, two birds one stone right there. And 2. encourages you to develop more passion for the movement you love, which reaps nothing but positivity. Another great way to add socialising to the mix is by finding clubs and groups who meet once or twice a week. It could be a social competition, or a leisurely Sunday run as a group.
By adding this element to your exercise routine, you are getting the sub-conscious feeling of support in your network and are exposed to picking up more tips and tricks within your exercise regime. Having this positivity associated with your movement rituals encourages its continuance, building strong feelings of community and relatability, whilst also inspiring those around you by showing them the connections you can make through movement.
Struggling to find a group suited to your movement? Make one!
3. Don’t be afraid to switch it up
Just as life ebbs and flows, your interests and desires for movement will too. Changing up the exercise modalities you do here and there, can have instrumental benefits both internally and externally. Exposing your muscles to new stimuli, a new way of moving and activating keeps things exciting and ensures the challenge is still there to ignite that drive.
You may be an avid runner, seeing that as your main and only exercise, but by incorporating some Pilates alongside this, you are open to opportunities of enhanced performance, learning new breathwork patterns and aligning the body, all of which carry over into running.
And you are also engaging in a new stimulus, which your body will thank-you for inside and out. This could also look like a one-off booking to, boxing, spin, yoga, a session with a trainer and so on.
Keeping things short and sweet; exciting and enjoyable is the key to success in building regular movement rituals.
Remembering not every session needs to be more challenging than the last, you do not always need to smash new goals; just learning to love movement for the benefit of your mind, body, and soul.