We all know that exercise is a critical component of maintaining good health, however many of us struggle to keep active. We might start strong, however after a while motivation is lost and we fall off the bandwagon.
There are many reasons for this, from not having the time, a niggling injury, illness, boredom, not enjoying exercise etc..
Part of the problem is that we try and "force" an exercise program into our life without really thinking about whether it will be sustainable.
Before embarking on an exercise program, it's important to ask yourself the following questions:
• What physical activities do you enjoy?
• Do you prefer group or individual activities?
• What type of exercise best fits your schedule/lifestyle?
• Do you have any physical condition that may limit your choice of exercise?
• What are your goals? (eg, weight loss, increase flexibility, increase muscle, stress relief).
I have seen so many people waste money on gym memberships. Why? Because they like the "idea" of going to the gym, but they really don't "enjoy" going. For many of these people, joining a team sport or an outdoor bootcamp with friends is a much more enjoyable form of exercise which they can sustain.
You need to schedule exercise into your week. Make it a priority!
Excuses excuses, I've heard them ALL. Once you decide on an exercise program it needs to become a priority. What is the point if you are forever finding a reason to have the week off.
If you find that you are the king/queen of excuses then maybe it's time to rethink your exercise program.
Learn to listen to your body. If you feel unwell – practice self -nurturance, and consider a yoga class instead of a spinning class.
While it's important to push yourself outside your comfort zone in order to achieve results, there is a very fine line between this and over-training. LISTEN to your body and give it what it needs.
Balance is CRITICAL. Your body NEEDS: good quality sleep, relaxation, good nutrition, healthy relationships.
The best type of exercise program involves several equally important components (the type and intensity of each depends on your goals)
- Aerobic activity (cardio). Important for cardiovascular fitness
- Anaerobic activity (high intensity strength based training such as resistance or weights training).
- Balance and Flexibility (yoga, stretching)
A good personal trainer will incorporate all of these components into an individualised program, however if you do enjoy the gym but don't like the idea of paying a personal trainer; just make sure that you vary your exercise program!
Exercise and Mental Health
While we all know that exercise is good for our body, many don't realise how important it is for MENTAL HEALTH.
When we exercise our body releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that interact with the brain and reduce our perception of pain. They also make us feel really good! Often referred to as the "runners high" endorphins can be quite addictive and act as a powerful motivator to keep exercising.
Exercise also increases the production and uptake of another important neurotransmitter called serotonin. A reduction in serotonin has been suggested to contribute to an increase in depressive symptoms. So much so that the drugs of choice for treating depression are actually called selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's). They work by increasing the brain's uptake of serotonin – thereby elevating mood.
So exercise is certainly NOT just about weight loss. It's about maintaining physical AND mental health, and general wellbeing.
So what are you waiting for? get moving!