You probably know this about us already, but if you don’t, we love to exercise. For Mark, in particular, this is one of his favourite topics to talk about because running has massively benefited his physical and mental health. So, when we say that exercise is a great way of ‘staying fit’, this includes your mind too, not just your body.
You know that Mark loves talking about this topic because he has written and published a self-help book called ‘Half Man, Half Marathon’. It tells his story about how running has improved his fitness and mental health.
Excerpt from the back-cover blurb: “After surviving a severe brain injury, Mark Kennedy embarked on a journey of running 100 half marathons. Half Man, Half Marathon is Mark’s story that evokes so many emotions by the simple act of those repeated steps getting closer to a destination. Read how he learnt that running could release the trauma and challenges that his hidden disability presented and how this sort has given positive mental health to so many.”
On the topic of exercise – We have great news! It is never too late to get moving. Exercise is one of the easiest ways to start controlling and improving your health.
Let’s be honest, most of us do not do enough physical activity each week. It is recommended that you are active every day, and here are some reasons why you should:
- Doing regular exercise can help you to sleep better at night.
- Physical exercise can help reduce the feeling of anxiety and depression.
- It can improve memory and brain function.
- Exercise can help you to manage your weight.
- Regular exercise can halt or prevent diseases like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
- Doing exercise can help you strengthen your bones and muscles, so you can improve your ability to do day-to-day activities.
- Being active can help you to stay independent and help with mobility when you get older.
So, what exercise can I do?
One of the brilliant things about exercise, besides its benefits, is that you can do so many different types. You can do them individually or in groups, so there is an exercise for everyone!
You might want to join a group sport like football, rugby, hockey or basketball.
Perhaps you want to pick a more independent exercise. Such as going to the gym, running, weightlifting, power walking, swimming, cycling, rowing or kayaking.
Alternatively, you might prefer an exercise that involves levels of progression, like gymnastics, jujitsu, karate and judo.
If you are a rhythmic person, you might prefer dancing exercises, such as ballet, tap, Zumba, aerobics and salsa.
Maybe you are looking for a more mindful exercise to build up your core strength and flexibility? You could chose Yoga or Pilates.
This is obviously not an exclusive list. However, you can see from this small list, what a vast array of exercises are available to us. Choose an exercise that you think you will genuinely enjoy, and you will soon realise how easy it is to stick with. Fitness can be fun!
So, where do I start?
A lot of people don’t know where to start or think you have to join a gym to stay fit. FALSE. The number of people who buy a gym membership but never go is huge, and this is partly because the gym is not the ‘right’ exercise for them. For instance, you might be better suited to a group sport rather than the gym. Alternatively, you might not be able to afford a gym membership or fitness club, so you believe you can’t stay fit. ALSO FALSE. There are so many free options that you can do to exercise. You just need the find the one you enjoy and fits in with your lifestyle.
For instance, there are so many free resources online you can use. YouTube has a vast number of fitness videos and tutorials you can follow along too. Whatever timeframe you need, you can find a video to fit your schedule. Alternatively, you can download a free fitness app. In addition to the exercise videos, can set you goals, challenges and reminders to help you stick to your fitness plan. Another option is social media. There are a lot of fitness groups and accounts that often post free, live fitness sessions, which you can join in with. This is a great option to feel part of a group and have someone to keep you motivated throughout the session in real-time, without having to pay for a personal trainer.
What about if I have a medical condition?
If you have any medical conditions that make fitness a challenge, we recommend you talk to an exercise physiologist. They will be able to speak with you to understand your condition and design a fitness routine that suits your specific needs. Your condition may prevent you from doing some of the exercises we’ve listed above, but it will not stop you from doing exercise altogether. You will just have to adapt and do what will benefit your condition.
How can I get into a fitness routine?
Setting yourself goals and an exercise plan is a great first step to help you get into exercise. Choose an activity that you will enjoy and make it fit your schedule. This will increase your chances of sticking to it. Make sure you do not create a too ambitious structure to begin with. You want to enjoy the exercise you are doing and feel positive about it rather than negative because you can’t stick to the schedule or find it too intense.
Make your plan realistic. Your exercise routine can be as simple as a brisk morning or evening walk. You could decide to bike to the shops rather than drive or making the conscious effort to take the stairs instead of the lift. If you don’t want to go out, you can be active at home too. Regular day-to-day chores around the house and garden can keep you active, as well as dancing around the house and walking up and down the stairs. Additionally, you could do some stretching daily. Stretching is a great way to help keep you flexible, so you can move more freely as well as building your muscles.
You do not need to go to a gym to increase your fitness. The important thing is that you keep moving and do so daily. Be realistic with yourself. Once you get comfortable with your initial changes, you can try and push yourself to do a little more.
If you think you will struggle to stick to your exercise routine, accountability will be beneficial to you. Make sure you tell people you are doing it, so they can help you to stick to your plan. Alternatively, find someone to become your exercise buddy, so you can help and motivate each other. This will help you to push yourself and make you more likely to stick to your plan because you don’t want to let the other person down. Relying on oneself to exercise can be difficult, especially before it becomes a habit. So, an exercise buddy can help you to form this healthy habit, and it can also make exercise really fun!
So, try and make sure you are moving every day. Remember that doing 5 minutes of exercise daily is better than nothing – if you don’t use it, you lose it! Exercise is needed to keep fit, so find the time and the type of exercise to suit you and your lifestyle!
To find out more on this topic…
Listen to our ‘E is for Exercise’ podcast episode!
Follow us on Social Media!