How to introduce exercise into your lifestyle - But ensure it stays! According to Our Experts
Move More Month:
April is an exciting time to be physically active. Not only this but April is also stress awareness month - and at Vitmedics we advocate that exercise can be a significant contributor to reducing stress levels. With summer just around the corner and most people falling short of getting enough physical activity, it's always a good time to put it in the spotlight and provide you with simple ways to boost their activity levels.
The official UK guidelines say adults should do strength exercises, as well as 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, every week. According to the Health Survey for England in 2016, 34% of men and 42% of women are not hitting the aerobic exercise targets, and even more – 69% and 77% respectively – are not doing enough strengthening activity. A report from the World Health Organization found that people in the UK were among the least active in the world, with 32% of men and 40% of women reporting inactivity. Meanwhile, obesity is adding to the chronic long-term diseases cited in Public Health England’s analysis, which shows women in the UK are dying earlier than in most EU countries.
So how can you start to introduce exercise into your lifestyle and ensure that it continues?
We asked Mike Wakeman MSc, MA, BSc, MRPharmS, Our founder and CEO of Vitmedics for advice.
Mike discussed that one of the biggest issues around trying to exercise is that too often our culture promotes fitness and exercise by hooking into short-term motivation, shame and guilt. Most often people will go to the gym more if their reasons are appearance-based, but past our early 20s that doesn’t fuel motivation much. Additionally vague goals such as “I want to get fit or I want to lose weight”. If we want to be more successful at achieving a more long term active lifestyle we need to focus on immediate positive feelings such as stress reduction, increased energy and making friends.
“The only way we are going to prioritise time to exercise is if it is going to deliver some kind of benefit that is truly compelling and valuable to our daily life,”.
Be kind to yourself
- Individual motivation, money, time, parenting, work schedule, tiredness and also depression can play a huge impact on your activity levels
- Be realistic - Don’t set an unachievable goal such as going to the gym or starting classes, aim to increase your daily steps by 2000/3000 each day. Include a brisk walk at lunch time, or in the evening when you would usually watch TV.
- Instead, think about exercise in terms of why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve from the physical activity. → How can I benefit today? How do I feel when I move? How do I feel after I move? Each small step is getting you closer to your goal.
Keep it short and sweet.
- very few of us have the determination or time to work out for an hour at a time. So dedicate 15 minutes. A brisk walk, a short bike ride, a quick workout of compound exercises.
- Maybe your goal was to walk each day at lunchtime but it rained every day this week and you didn’t go? If previous exercise regimes haven’t worked, don’t beat yourself up or try them again – just try something else. Change that mindset of ‘this hasn’t worked for me and its my fault’ to ‘This wasn’t the regime for me, I can’t wait to find what works for me and my body’. We are all unique, our nutritional needs, our minds, but also our bodies what works for someone else doesn’t have to work for you.
- We are often told that housework and gardening can contribute to our weekly exercise targets, but is it that simple? With gardening, you’d have to be doing the heavier gardening – digging – not just weeding. If you’re walking the dog, you can make it into a genuine exercise session – instead of a casual stroll make it a brisk walk, or even run with the dog, or find a route that includes some hills.
- Did you know that by the age of 30 we start to lose muscle mass. Resistance training (using body weight, such as press-ups, or equipment, such as resistance bands) is really important. It can help to maintain muscle mass and slow down the loss of it. It’s also important to have some form of aerobic exercise and integrating balance challenges too - This can all simply be done in the comfort of your own home.
Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. But sometimes the introduction or reintroduction of exercise can feel overwhelming and like a mammoth task. So start small and achievable.