Exercising can be a struggle especially now during lockdown. The gyms are shut and it’s hard to get motivated. You keep meaning to get started but just don’t make it, or just feel too unfit and overweight to make the effort. It doesn’t have to be this way though. We can get involved in our new reality and even make it work to our advantage. Workout from home, join an online dance class, fitness session or yoga studio. The benefits of excercise on the way you feel and look are too good to miss…
Special note: most of my tips are “home based’ and so are perfect during lockdown. .
Firstly, Make it Fun
If you love it you will do it.
It’s that simple. Find something you love. This should be especially easy for your cardio:-
If you love dancing:-
- Put on some music and dance
- Dance in the kitchen whilst working
- Join an online dance class (click here for a free Zoom bellydance class with me)
If you love being outside, do something outside:-
- A brisk walk, run or cycle
- Exercise in the garden
- Play outdoors tennis
- Swim outside
- More ideas below
If you love yoga:-
- Join an online Zoom yoga class (I’m currently training as a yoga teacher, look out for my online classes in the future)
- Do your own yoga practice wherever you love could be the beach, your garden, or just in your favourite room in your house.
If you love sport Do it…
Benefits of Exercise
We need Exercise so we can enjoy its many healthy benefits which include:-
- Cardiovascular health.
- Lung health.
- Muscle strength.
- Toned muscles.
- Improves sleep.
- Increases our energy levels.
- Improves our mood.
- Reduces anxiety, stress and depression.
- Healthy glowing skin (click here to read more)
Exercise versus Movement.
What exactly do I mean by ‘exercise.’
To maintain our good health it’s widely accepted that we need to move more and sit less in general, click here for my recent blog post on this subject.
General movement will tend to be in the low to medium intensity excercise category. Please see below:-
- Low Intensity Exercise – You can talk easily in full sentences and sing.
- Moderate Intensity Exercise – You can talk in full sentences but not sing.
- High Intensity Exercise – You are too breathless to talk easily. You need to take breaths between words.
Today, however, I’m talking about the more formal exercise which will normally fall into the moderate to high intensity range dependant on your current fitness levels.
There are 3 types of exercise we should be doing for all round good health:-
- Cardio (vascular) – anything that makes you breathe harder – things like dancing, running, aerobics, cycling, Zumba, HIITS
- Strength Training – bodyweight exercises like press-ups, pull-ups , resistance band training, weight training, Yoga, HIITS…
- Flexibility – Yoga, stretching, Pilates. Tai Chi.
How Much Exercise do we Need
Common recommendations are:-
- Cardio:- 2/3 times per week with at least 24 hours of rest before the next.
- Strength Training – 2/3 times per week, with at least one day to rest in between.
- Flexibility – 2/3 times per week
But if you’re just starting out put these recommendations to one side. It’s more important just to get started!!!
The first step is always the hardest!!!
If you’re just starting out, chances are you need to start small, really small. Set targets that are easily achievable.
If it’s more exercise than your doing now then that’s a win, if you’re achieving targets that’s also a win and great for your morale…As is tracking your progress, wether that be on paper or on your fitness watch…
Here’s what to do:-
- Right now this minute, make your yearly target that you will exercise on at least one day each and every week.
- Every week make a target for the coming week. If it’s just to exercise the one day then schedule the day, if you decide to do more then schedule that in your diary.
- Every morning make an exercise target for that day, no matter how small. You may decide it’s a rest day and that’s fine.
Starting Small really, really small – My regime for starting or restarting
I’ve had to start small on many occasions when recovering from injury and multitude of other reasons.
You just don’t feel like doing it. The only thing that got me motivated was to make it so small that it took no time at all and was almost effortless then build up from there.
This works because it gets you to take that all important first step:-
Cardio – Start with 1 minute of your favourite cardio exercise. (add 1 minute the next time you do it and then another the next time and so on until you reach your desired amount, 30 minutes is a good target)
Strength Training – I would start with good old fashioned body weight training. Just do 1 rep.(repetition) of each exercise. so 1 squat, 1 lunge on each leg, 1 press-up against the wall. These 3 exercises are a good start. On your next strength training day do 2 reps. and keep adding on 1 rep. at a time until reaching the desired amount. Once you’ve reached 5 reps. that’s 1 set. (5 reps= 1 set) 5 sets of 5 reps is a good target to aim for.
There are loads of online videos to show you correct form for these exercises if you need that. My favourite strength training site is www.nerdfitness.com.
Flexibility – Fitting in some stretches after your cardio and strength training sessions will be enough. Again there are loads of online videos from experts to help you out if you’re not sure how to stretch.
Make it Easy
It seems pretty obvious to say that if you make it easy to do you are more likely to do it. So how can we make it easy:-
Doing something fun that you love (as above) will also Make it Easy.
Use your own spaces to workout.
If you work out in your own home or garden you save time and money…You also don’t need to find that double motivation to get off the couch get yourself ready and go out to get fit.
Use your own garden to workout in. This could be
- Walking briskly or running circuits around it.
- Do your body weight training out there.
- Get some TRX training equipment, find or install a bar to anchor it to or use a strong branch from a tree.
- Do your HIIT sessions out there. HIITS are fast and super efficient (click here to read more)
- Yoga in the garden.
- Dance in the garden.
- Possibly you can play sports out there.
Use your own home:-
- Body weight training.
- Home gym, free weights, a pull up bar.
If you’re short on time, which most of us are, doubling up on our self care and health goals is golden and can really help make exercising easier.
Here’s some examples of double ups:-
- Strength training plus cardio – HIITS tick the strength training plus cardio boxes. you only need to do 2/3 times per week and they should never last longer than 30 minutes per session. Find a local class or do it in the house or your own garden, there are literally millions of free online classes you can follow. (click here to read more about HIITS)
- Strength training plus flexibility (plus cardio) – Yoga ticks the strength training and flexibility boxes (ashtanga yoga and similiar can also tick the cardio box)
- Move more plus exercise – Since we have to sit less and move more anyway we may as well double this up to include exercise. So for example plan a gentle, enjoyable nature walk to include some harder terrain which will take us into moderate/high intensity exercise. This could mean including some up hill or cross country or you could just run or walk faster for a duration of the overall walk.
- Exercise plus outside in nature – The health benefits of being outside in nature are widely acknowledged (click here for my recent blog post on this subject ). There are a number of ways which have already been mentioned where we can combine our exercise with being outside in nature, even if it’s just in our own garden.
- Exercise plus relaxation – Some exercise, Yoga being the most obvious one contains elements that are deeply relaxing. You could try and fit in a short meditation to end every exercise session. Its a nice way to finish. Anything from 1-10 minutes with some relaxation meditation music would hit the spot. (click here to read my recent blog post on meditation)
- Exercise plus Play – Bringing more playtime into our grown up lives is becoming more popular mainly because of its emotional health benefits. PLAY MAKES YOU HAPPY. Exercise and play can go easily together. Many of the suggestions already listed would be considered grown up playtime. Click here to read my recent blog post all about grownup playtime for more suggestions
In a nutshell
Exercise can be made easy by making it a fun part of your life. It can be simple and inexpensive to fit in if we use our imagination and our own resources. Just take that first small step and away you go…
Dance is my passion so for me cardio fitness is a breeze and a blast. I’m a specialist and master teacher in Egyptian style bellydance, I’m also an international award winning bellydancer. If you fancy a free bellydance class with me click below.
I also run a fantastic group Health Coaching program where we optimise your health and weight together at the same time in a way you will LOVE. Get rid of middle age spread and bloated belly, get more energy and revive your va va Voom. Click picture for more details and to register for the next course beginning May 8th 2021.
I also work with a small number of clients on a one to one basis. Tailored to your requirements, taking into consideration all the little things that make you and your situation unique. We’ll collaborate together and find the perfect fit that works for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions and questions in the comments section below.
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