Welcome to 12 Weeks to Calm – Week Three.
This week, we are going to be talking all things exercise. There are very clear links between the increase in exercise, and the decrease in anxiety and depression. The links and benefits are clearly outlined in this article from the Mayo Clinic in the United States. Regular exercise (30 minutes, at least three times per week) benefits both the mind and the body. Even if you have never exercised before, all you have to do is get up off the couch and get moving. It doesn’t matter how slowly you go to begin with, as long as you don’t stop!
– Find something you enjoy: Growing up, I was never a big fan of exercise. I dipped in and out of different team sports, but just don’t have that killer instinct. My basketball coach used to try to get me to go in hard and foul people by bribing me with cans of Coke. As an adult I started trying different things like going to the gym and walking. These, along with Daily Burn videos (which I talked about on the blog last week) have become my exercises of choice. If you choose something that you enjoy, it’s never going to be a chore. Daily Burn allows me to mix things up – I can choose anything from yoga and pilates to weight work outs, tabata and Cross Fit style challenges. Having that variety stops me from getting bored. If it’s nice weather I can also take it outside – yoga on the back deck with the breeze whispering through the trees is a lot more relaxing than doing it on the rug in the lounge room!
– Choose a time of day that works for you: I like to exercise in the morning. It puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day, and I feel refreshed. Yes, it means going to bed a little bit earlier and setting the alarm a little earlier, but I’m finding myself in a good routine now I’m back at work after the holidays and determined to stick with it. There are many 24 hour gyms if you’re a shift worker or need somewhere you can exercise early or late, and a program like Daily Burn is perfect for fitting in with your schedule.
– Don’t discount incidental exercise: If you’re not used to exercising, one of my favourite tips from the Mayo Clinic is to capitalise on incidental exercise. Park the car further away in the car park, take the stairs rather than the lift, walk up the escalator, do a few squats when you get up from the couch, or use the ad breaks of your favourite TV show to do some jumping jacks. Little by little, it will start to benefit you and you will be able to start exercising more. The hardest thing is to take that first step and start to form more habits.
– Track your movement: You know how much I love my FitBit, and I’m so excited that the Charge HR has now been released so I can track my heart rate, calories burnt, steps taken and stairs climbed. An article was released this week saying that fitness trackers weren’t all they were cracked up to be, and that people didn’t necessarily become more active just because they were using them. I think that if you go to the effort to buy one and then use it, you will clearly see the benefits. It is great to have a record of how much (or little) you are moving, so you can track your improvements and also have some healthy competition with yourself to get more active. I find it very motivating, and often throw in some extra laps of my classroom, or walking the long way to get somewhere in order to get my steps up.
– Exercise with a friend: My neighbour and I both have small children and set a time each week to go for a walk at the local bike track. We chat and push the prams, and the 6km distance goes by in the blink of an eye. We often have a coffee afterwards as well, which is nice. Exercising with another person can also make you more accountable – you’re less likely to pull out of your plans if you have someone waiting for you. You could even get them to come and pick you up! If you have a dog, they would appreciate a walk as much as you would. It’s a win-win.
– Try to move every day: One of the goals I set for myself is to move every day. Most days I do a Daily Burn workout which lets me really get a sweat up, but a 15 minute walk with the dog and the kids is still great if I’m pushed for time. While six days a week seems like a lot of exercise to ‘old me’, I’ve seen the benefits so quickly which has spurred me on to keep going.
What exercise makes you feel great? What will you do to get moving this week?
* If you would like to share your exercise this week, feel free to share pictures on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. You can hashtag them #12weekstocalm