Physical activity is central to taking care of ourselves. And while January is done, you’ve still got time to turn this year into one when you really reap the benefits.
Here are seven ways to help make it happen.
Put it in your diary.
Treat your daily exercise the same way you’d treat any other appointment and put it in the calendar. Set a reminder on your phone. Then do it. Book into a class or a one-on-one session or do it with a reliable friend if that kind of structure will keep you on track.
Speaking of which…
Don’t say yes to everyone but you.
Scared of letting others down but always willing to give up your own plans? Writer, spiritual teacher and all-round wise woman, Reverend Stephanie Dowrick recommends we support ourselves the same way we would a friend. And it’s unlikely we’d let a friend regularly sacrifice her own health needs.
Embrace ‘good enough’
Forget perfect. Doing something always beats doing nothing.
Do your session all at once so it’s done, or do it in snack-sized bits if that’s what works for you. Snacking might mean a quick walk to the end of the street and back, ten squats five times throughout the day, standing on one leg while you brush your teeth, or walking around while you’re on the phone.
Make a list and tick each one off if you like lists. You could compare notes with a friend to keep each other focused.
But however you choose to do your exercise, don’t set your sights so high you have to be God-like to succeed.
Have a Plan B, or invent one (and COVID will probably insist that you do)
Life doesn’t always respect our best laid plans, but that’s no reason to abandon them. It works to have something up your sleeve when all else fails.
But sometimes we just have to be creative about what we can fit in. Some women keep a pair of walking shoes in the car, just in case.
Refuse to indulge in guilt or shame
Feeling bad serves no constructive purpose as far as your well-being is concerned, so don’t waste time agonising over what you didn’t do.
And if you consistently don’t do it, it’s time to take a deeper look at what’s going on or make a new plan.
Don’t expect it to feel great the first time
If you haven’t been all that physical over the Christmas and holiday break, it’s probably not going to come together beautifully the first time you try to exercise again. That’s normal.
Your brain is trying to dust off and coordinate the right nerve pathways while your heart, lungs and muscles are trying to adapt to the new demands. The good news is it’ll be easier next time.
If you’ve had a long layoff be aware that activities like cycling, swimming or just moving in the water are kinder on joints than walking on concrete or bitumen and might be a gentler place to start.
Stick with it.
Pat yourself on the back for making it through the first week, then keep going. After a month of being pretty consistent, improvement will be obvious, and you’ll likely be feeling good about that.
The hardest bit is behind you now. You know you can do it.
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