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Ways to Make Exercise Work for You

It starts with this - a non-negotiable commitment to move your body every single day.

This is a game changer in terms of energy levels, creativity, productivity, mood, positive mindset etc. Don't tie yourself into things like, I must workout or go to the gym 5 times a week. As this year as shown, that can be easy to disrupt! When you make it part of your identity to MOVE rather than go to the gym, you suddenly have the creativity and flexibility to change your movement depending on what's possible, what best suits your mood and day, rather than it having to be this one fixed thing.

Here are my top tips for getting movement to work for you:

1. Change your perspective on why

Exercise is not linked to your nutrition. It is not linked to your weight. It is not about punishing yourself for something you have or haven't done. It is solely about looking after your body, your future self and your mental health. It is about bringing you joy, freedom, strength and vitality.

2. Start and start small

Too many people start out too hard and too fast. They become SO sore for several days afterwards (this is called DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness), and can be really off-putting. You'll also get it when you challenge your muscles in a new or different way (but it's not necessary to have a great workout). The effort required feels impossible to repeat. So just start - 10 squats whilst you wait for the kettle to boil, 2 stretches after you get up from your desk, a ten minute walk. When you workout for the first time, go for about 50% of what you feel capable of, and build up slowly as your body adapts.

3. Mix it up

Too often we get caught up too strongly in identities - I am a runner/cross-fitter/golfer and forget that our bodies NEED variety. I think of this like ninja, or superhero training! Our bodies what to be strong and supple and mobile and fit and to able to twist, turn, get up and down, jump, play and roll around. Pounding just a few movement patterns too hard can hinder just as much as help. Our activities want to counteract our lifestyle; open us up from all the forward, hunched movements we do, and start to re-balance our muscle imbalances e.g. from getting out of bed always the same way, or carrying our bag on the same shoulder all the time.

4. Rest & recovery

We get stronger when we rest. So many people forget this! Exercise and working out actually creates small tears and damage in our muscles (this is one of the reasons we may be sore after a workout). We NEED rest and recovery in order to repair this small amount of damage and so that the muscle is bigger and stronger next time round it meets those challenges. Adequate time in between workouts, nutrition that supports recovery, hydration and enough sleep are all important factors.

5. Action leads to motivation

Not the other way round! Don't wait to feel inspired to exercise. You can ALWAYS talk yourself out of it and find something else that is less effort to do. Act first, and the motivation actually follows on from that. Find the kinds of movement that bring you joy and DO THOSE. I love a dance whilst no one is watching - whilst I love a structured workout too, the uninhibited joyful movement whilst dancing gives me so much freedom, motivation and positivity for the rest of my day!

What are your favourite ways to move your body?

How have you found ways to make movement work for you?

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