Exercise, whether that makes you think of sleek yoga classes, rustic woodland walks or pushing yourself to the limits at the gym, we all know it’s undoubtedly one of the best things you can do for your body & one of the simplest ways to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Almost everyone can do some form of exercise & you don’t need to join a fancy gym or take a trendy class to do this, as no matter what your budget there is guaranteed to be some form exercise that suits you.
You might already be a devoted fitness fan, but I know from experience that if you’ve had a long period of being inactive, whether through illness or simply disinterest, exercise can seem daunting. You can compare yourself to others, whether it’s the enviably toned girls at the gym, the Crossfitter’s PB’s, or the rose tinted accounts on instagram, but that shouldn’t put you off! Feeling intimidated or inadequate is totally normal as we’re bombarded with perfect images & amazing feats of athleticism, the key is not to compare yourself or put yourself down. Look up to them, use them as inspiration, adopt their passion & enthusiasm for keeping fit & healthy, after all most of them would be horrified to think that they might stop people from exercising!
Body image & confidence aside exercise is relatively simple to undertake, you can just step outside to take a walk or sit and stretch in the comfort of your own home, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!
When I was really ill & all I could really do all day was lie down I still made sure I did some form of exercise, even though it would wipe me out for the rest of the day or even a week, as I knew it was important for my muscles & cardiovascular system. I would usually cycle on a stationary bike even if only for 5 minutes because at least it was something. Many of you may be in the same boat, wanting to exercise but simply not having enough energy for it, my advice is to do something, anything as long as you move your body in some way each week. I know this seems like a lot to ask if you are too exhausted to function, but even the smallest exertion can make all the difference to your health. You just have to accept that it will make you tired & you will have to rest for the remainder of the day. My doctor used to say do something physical then afterwards wrap yourself in a warm towel & have a lie down, which certainly helped my body recover.
I’m not saying that exercise alone will make you well again (I won’t pass on my negligent doctor’s advice!), but it can improve your mood, making life a little easier to bear & can help your immune system to function more efficiently, but don’t push yourself too much or it can have the opposite effect. Once you start to heal, or become fitter if you were healthy to start with, you can build up your exercise routine, but don’t try to do too much at once, it’s better to start slow & steady to prevent injury and overexertion. Aim to build exercise into your life so that it becomes a habit not a chore. If you try & find something that you love to do & look forward to all week, exercise can become a joy & soon you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.
After a workout I always feel rejuvenated, my skin glows, my muscles feel stronger & it eradicates that sluggish feeling that can creep over me. I recommend that you aim to build up to regularly exercising at least 3 times a week, but how long it takes you depends on where you started & how your body reacts. This last point is so important, you have to listen to what your body tells you, especially if you are fighting an illness or you could just make your condition worse. You should never compare yourself to someone else, our bodies are all unique & just because your friend can run a marathon doesn’t mean you should push yourself to run one too! Be kind to yourself and take it at your own pace, life isn’t a race & when you’re ready to push yourself you’ll know, exercise is never meant to be easy & if it is then it’s time for a new fitness challenge.
Once I started to heal I added in a regular exercise class, gradually tried to walk more each day, & then added in other short exercises throughout the week. When I went to university I really began to push my fitness goals, but ended up exhausted everyday from walking everywhere & exercising 3x a week. I didn’t give up though & now I try to exercise 5x a week, but now with a full time job that can be a bit much sometimes! I’m actually less fit now than I was last year, (studying gives you more time for exercise!) but I’m determined to regain my fitness & I love to watch myself grow stronger. My muscles pretty much wasted away when I was really ill, & I’m still trying to undo the damage, but don’t let this happen to you, one day soon you will get better & you want your body to be in the best condition possible under the circumstances.
Remember starting to exercise may seem like a daunting task, but it is achievable if you persevere, & if you’re ill use it alongside your treatment to harness it’s health boosting benefits. This simple act will boost your health & well-being, kicking your health seeking journey off to an invigorating start, & remember you can do this!
Tell me below how you love to exercise, what you’d like to try or how it makes you feel.
I look forward to hearing your stories
(Image courtesy of: https://unsplash.com/@heytowner)