I’m aware this is a very subjective topic so, to begin, I’ll give you some background of my past experiences with exercise. In all honesty, I’ve tried a lot of different types of exercise and have disliked the majority of them!! I find gyms over-stimulating and smelly, plus I prefer not to be watched when I’m working out. Sports (apart from badminton or tennis) are a no-no, simply because I’m ridiculously clumsy and uncoordinated. I also can never seem to remember the rules! Non-treadmill running is something I would love to return to in future but I’ve been slightly daunted by a number of friends, all slightly older than me, who experience severe joint problems (all formerly keen runners). I love to swim in the sea but this is somewhat difficult in the middle of England, where all we have are overcrowded, chlorinated swimming pools. Joy of joys!
The thing to remember is that everyone has different tolerance levels, in relation to fitness, sensitivity and physical ability. The phrase “find what feels good” is my mantra nowadays; this was coined by the lovely Adriene Mishler, who I’ll write about in a second! Here are some very basic tips that have worked for me.
- Set a schedule – or don’t! Depending on how predictable your daily routine is, a schedule may or may not help you to stick to a balanced exercise regime. I generally complete 3 or 4 cardio sessions a week, complemented with some intense but short strength training and yoga in between.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s good to find healthy inspiration in people but don’t feel bad if you can’t hold the plank for 10 minutes or lift yourself into crow pose on first attempt. These things take time and frankly, not all of us have the same capabilities! We are all strong and capable in different ways.
- Take a walk. Walking makes such a difference to your overall wellbeing; the rhythm of it can help to quieten your mind and you’ll have a lovely, gentle workout.
- Be kind to yourself. If you’re sick or simply too tired to consider working out, don’t do it. You’re more likely to have a lacklustre workout and you may even hurt yourself. Just promise yourself that you’ll restart as soon as you’ve had time to rest properly.
- Wear a good sports bra (for the ladies). This is such a basic tip but so important; you’ll save yourself a lot of aching and discomfort. They often stretch out of shape, so make sure they’re supporting you properly!
- If you’re exercising to shape up, forget the scales. Measurements are a much more reliable way of tracking your progress. You can even do this by using your clothes as a guideline but a tape measure is obviously the best option; particularly when you keep a little food diary to see what you’ve been doing right!
- Youtube is your friend. I have found so many brilliant workouts on Youtube recently; most have excellent instructors and there are lots to choose from. This is my current favourite!
- Don’t follow the crowd. If you don’t like HIIT, don’t punish yourself by doing it, as you’re less likely to keep to a regular routine. Try lots of things out and you’re sure to find something that works well for you.
- Consider a machine. My parents have a treadmill and I really miss using it; it was the best thing ever for a convenient run or even a fast stroll, if the weather was too bad to go outside. I loved running to music and I know a few people who use their machines (exercise bikes, rowing machines, etc) in front of the TV.
- Give yoga a chance! For years, I felt yoga was too slow, too low-impact and just not my thing at all. In December last year, I discovered Yoga with Adriene. Several months on, I love yoga and can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my physical and mental health. It certainly is not easy but is incredibly enjoyable, calming for your mind and will build your strength more than you might expect! Adriene is simply the best teacher I’ve come across; her humour really helps to make your practice as enjoyable as possible.
The gist of this post is generally to reiterate that there’s an exercise routine for everyone; some people will love hard cardio, whilst others thrive on gentler exercise. Be true to yourself. Accept your circumstances (lots of jumping around might not be appreciated if you’re in an upstairs flat!), work effectively with your free time and don’t ever forget to nourish your body with good food, gentle care and positive thinking, alongside your regular exercise.
Please do share your thoughts! Do you like to exercise, or can you give an example of any kinds that just haven’t worked for you?