I’ve been really interested to hear that recent research that has found exercise to be as useful in reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression as medication – an added bonus of engaging in regular physical activity in addition to the traditional benefits that we know exercise has on physical health.
Now that the weather is finally changing and that daylight savings is upon us, I think it’s time to crank up the exercise routines and get your exercise mojo back. Here’s seven ways to show you how!
1. Make the time:
Many people tell me how they wish they could do more exercise but that they just don’t have the time.
I have two things to say about that.
Firstly, if it’s important to you you’ll find and make the time.
Secondly, people often fail to consider early morning as a time to exercise. Getting up just 30 minutes earlier than normal is all that’s required and now that it’s lighter earlier it’s a great time to get that habit started. Early morning is such a lovely time of the day and when you’re out and about at this hour you’ll be amazed at how many other people know this and use it as their preferred time to work out.
2. Make exercise a non-negotiable aspect of your day:
In much the same way as you allocate time for meals and sleep (which are of course non-negotiable), make exercise a part of your daily routine. I know from experience how easy it is to talk yourself out of exercising with self depreciating thoughts such as “I’m too tired,” “It’s too hot/cold/windy/wet” or “I don’t have enough time” being classic excuses to not getting your exercise done.
The solution? It’s simple. Just go. Don’t engage with these thoughts, they’re not helpful (in fact they’re just self defeating). Approach exercise in the same way as you would any other routine. Write it into your diary if you need to or set an alert on your phone, almost like blocking out a period of time for an appointment with yourself. By doing this you’ll find that in a relatively short amount of time your exercise will have become a habit and the whole process of going will become much easier.
3. Create and use opportunities for incidental exercise
This means making opportunities for exercise to happen. A great example of this is by walking/running/riding to and/or from work. This does take some planning and preparation but the benefits include getting to work in a great space mentally and then having the opportunity to use your preferred method of exercise home as a third space opportunity.
[*Worried that you won’t be able to do this because of all that marking you have to drag to and from home? Plan to stay back a bit later than normal and do it, then you can leave the marking there.]
Other opportunities for incidental exercise include using exercise as a means to get to and from places that you normally go instead of driving or catching public transport. Alternatively, if distances are just too far, consider exercising for a portion of the distance (for example a friend of mine lives over an hour away from her work. She rides to the train station which is a few kilometres away from where she lives and then leaves her bike there for the day).
4. Make exercise part of your journey to or from work:
An alternative to getting to and from work whilst exercising is stopping off to exercise on your way home. This may mean detouring past the pool to swim a few laps, going to the gym for a class or PT session or going to a yoga class. That way the exercise is incorporated into your commute and doesn’t become something else that needs to happen in your day.
5. Create a team or join a club:
In addition to building collegiality around similar points of interest, creating a work team has the added benefit of making people feel accountable for their participation in exercising with others. Being part of a team can help as a motivator as your participation is required in order for your team to be successful. If hanging out with your work mates after hours isn’t your thing, joining a sports club is another way to make new friends and work out at the same time. Remember, friends who sweat together get fit together.
6. Workout for a cause:
Preparing for an event that you’re raising money for can be another really motivating way to incorporate exercise into you routine. Runs and rides are common fundraising activities that combine exercise with fundraising. Training for these events can be highly satisfying because you i) aim for and achieve a goal and ii) your efforts go towards supporting a worthwhile cause and helping people in need. Once again, creating a team with people from work can be a good way to get colleagues from work motivated and engaged in exercise.
7. Create opportunities for exercise to happen at work:
Got a gym instructor, yoga teacher or personal trainer on staff? Why not allocate a time where they run sessions for staff before work or at the end of the day? Alternatively, bring the specialists to you.
* A REMINDER: As effective as exercise is as a means to physical health and mental wellbeing, I must caution against overdoing it. There is such a thing as doing too much exercise and this can have serious effects on the body. Remember to mix-up your exercise routine and to have days of rest to avoid exercise induced injury.