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"Finding Joy in Movement: How to Look Forward to Your Workouts"


Girl working out in the sun using an exercise band

Introduction:


Everyone implicitly knows that eating well and exercising are the cornerstones of good health. In fact, physical inactivity is one of the highest “hazard factors” for all-cause mortality, scoring even higher than smoking, in some studies. Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be physically active. It's essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life into old age.


But is exercise a pleasure or a pain in the… ? For many, it might feel like a daunting task, yet exercise could be the most potent lifestyle change for improving our health outcomes. How can you look forward to your workouts more?


This blog explores the importance of exercise on our health and resilience, offering insights into overcoming common barriers and finding an exercise routine that suits you best.


The Power of Movement:


In my health coaching practice, I prefer using the term "movement" instead of exercise. It makes physical activity more accessible and inclusive for people of all backgrounds and abilities. Movement encompasses various activities, including brisk walking, taking the stairs, vigorous gardening, housework, and cycling to work. By starting with simple movements, you can pave an easy gateway to more structured forms of exercise.


As someone with Mediterranean roots – I am originally Lebanese - exercise was not ingrained in my culture. People from the Mediterranean over-indexed on having fun, on eating elaborate (and quite healthy!) meals with friends and family. I remember in my younger days, I used to sit out of PE lessons at school and everything I could to get out of team sports. I simply didn't see great examples of active lifestyles around me.


Today, I'm not perfect, but I've come a long way from those days. My journey towards embracing exercise has felt challenging at times, but it has been worth every step. It started with small movements and gradually evolved into a consistent exercise routine that brings me joy and health. I now feel stronger and fitter than I have ever been. I have more muscle definition and I am able to run further without losing my breath. There is more to go, but I am on a great track.


Why Some Embrace Exercise While Others Struggle:


Not everyone finds exercise enjoyable from the get-go. Some struggle to even get started. But remember, you can make progress with the right mindset. Here are common barriers and ways to overcome them when it comes to building more movement in your daily life:


1. Overthinking it:

Stop spending too much time planning; take action. I remember spending hours researching the best gym memberships, shopping for gym outfits and equipment I did not actually need. No need to do all of that. Just get off the sofa and step outside for your first workout. Action beats perfection.


2. Feeling self-conscious:

Focus on your own progress, not on comparing yourself to others. You over-estimate how closely people are looking at you or judging you. I have fallen into this trap many times myself. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.


3. Doing too much all at once:

If you’re starting from square one, you might be tempted to throw yourself in the deep end, and sign up to a 60min spin class or attempt a 5K run on Day 1. This will add to your discouragement because you will have evidence that you can’t do it. Start small and build up. Begin with a 30-minute brisk walk three times per week, then gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.


4. Feeling like you do not have the time:

I’m a firm believer in that you spend the time on things that matter the most to you. The moment you decide to prioritise health, you will find yourself more able to carve out the time for things that matter for your health, like exercise. Remember, you have more control over your time than you think.


5. Feeling like you don’t have the energy:

Exercise can actually boost your energy levels. Start slowly, and you'll notice how your energy increases over time.


6. Copying what others are doing:

Discover activities that genuinely resonate with you. Don’t be influenced by what you see others doing – what works for them may not work for you. Reflect on what you are looking for in your workouts and explore different options.


Fast-Track Your Way to More Movement:


To fast-track your exercise journey, focus on flipping the barriers that are stopping you around. Here's how, leveraging the cardinal rules of behavioural change from Atomic Habits3:


1. Reflect on your likes and dislikes:

Identify the attributes of exercise that you enjoy the most and those that put you off. Many of my clients state that they find exercise boring, pointless, too demanding, or too inconvenient. However, upon reframing what exercise entails, which is basically any type of movement, they realise the many options they could try out, like dancing, joining a running club, trying a reformer Pilates class, using an app to track their progress, taking up boxing. The options become more open and more enticing.


2. Make it obvious:

Plan your workouts, schedule them in the calendar, and place your exercise shoes by the door, so you're reminded to move when you see them.


3. Make it social or fun:

Exercise with friends, join group classes, or try activities that bring joy while moving your body.


4. Make it achievable:

Start with short bursts of activity. Gradually increase the difficulty level as you build confidence.


5. Make it convenient:

You don't need expensive equipment or memberships. Explore free or low-cost movement options in your area. Walking, running, cycling, or swimming are all great starting points.


6. Make it satisfying:

Track your progress and celebrate your achievements. Set realistic goals and acknowledge your growth. The more tangible progress you feel, the higher the likelihood you will stick to the routine.


7. Make it uniquely yours:

Tailor your exercise choices, timings, frequency, and intensity with what suits your preferences.


The UK National Health Recommendations:


In the UK, national health guidelines recommend adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, spread across the week. Additionally, muscle-strengthening activities should be done at least twice a week, working all major muscle groups.


The Resilience and Health Benefits of Exercise:


The impact of exercise on health goes far beyond the physical benefits. Regular exercise has been linked to improved cardiovascular function, better metabolic health, enhanced cognitive function, and acts as an effective mood stabiliser.


Let's delve deeper into these benefits:


1. Cardiovascular Function:

Aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling, and swimming, strengthen the heart, increase blood flow, and improve overall cardiovascular health. Regular aerobic exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.


2. Metabolic Health:

Exercise helps regulate blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also aids in weight management and lowers the risk of obesity-related conditions.


3. Cognitive Function:

Physical activity has a positive impact on brain health and cognitive function. Regular exercise is associated with better memory, improved focus, and reduced risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.


4. Mood Stabiliser:

Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression, promoting emotional well-being.


The Holistic Approach to Movement:


The importance of exercise in resilience health coaching cannot be overstated. As a health coach, my approach is holistic and personalised. I believe that exercise should align with individual preferences, interests, and goals. Here are some principles I emphasise:


1. Lifestyle Integration:

Integrating exercise into your daily routine makes it more sustainable. Instead of viewing it as a separate activity, find ways to incorporate movement into your workday, commute, or family time.


2. Mindful Movement:

Explore different forms of exercise mindfully. Yoga, tai chi, and meditation-based movement practices offer physical and mental benefits and can be a great complement to traditional workouts.


3. Progress, Not Perfection:

Celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Remember that consistency is key, and each step towards a healthier lifestyle counts.


4. Customised Workouts:

As a health coach, I help you figure out your individual needs and preferences, discovering activities that resonate best with you and make movement enjoyable and effective.


Conclusion:


Exercise is not just about aesthetics; it's about building resilience and improving overall health. Finding an exercise routine that suits your preferences, lifestyle, and goals is key to making it a lifelong habit. Embrace movement in your life, and you'll reap the countless benefits it brings to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. If you are someone who is currently physically inactive, just start somewhere. It is the best investment in your health you can make.


If you are curious to explore how you can leverage movement to improve your health and well-being, book your complimentary one-to-one conversation with Nada, Certified Health Coach & Founder of The Healthy Chain: https://calendly.com/thehealthychain/free-coaching-trial-session


This is a unique opportunity to meet Nada, discuss your health, and get some ideas on how you can boost your inner resilience.



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