Initiating any type of fitness regime can be a major challenge for some of us. We certainly tend to be creatures of routine so no matter what kind of lifestyle we become accustomed to it can be next to impossible to change our habits without some drastic intervention to push us in a new and challenging direction.
One of the reasons can be in large part got to do with confidence, self-esteem and willingness to step outside of our comfort zones or feeling like we are leaving ourselves wide open to criticism and failure. Sometimes it may even be the fear of feeling worse internally or even less confident in ourselves and our own abilities.
This blog is intended to aid us in building ourselves up slowly and to enhance our bodies and minds at a pace that will gradually increase self-belief and sense of achievement without trying to change so drastically that it’s easier and simpler to slip back into the familiarity of self-doubt and denial.
The first trick I learned on my journey to a healthier lifestyle is to start easy and pace yourself. Walking is probably the best way to get back in touch with both yourself and the natural world and order around us. And depending on how fast you choose to step, it can even count as cardio exercise or the pre-cursor to starting a more intense cardio-oriented routine.
Cardio is defined as any exercise that increases heart rate, air intake and blood flow and is a great way to boost positive brain function and hand-eye coordination, not to mention maintain the health of muscles, blood vessels and organs.
The hardest parts of exercising for me are getting started and staying interested. Warming up is highly important and only takes five minutes. You should run on the spot, swing your arms or punch the air, basically any movement that increases blood flow and the circulation of oxygen while your body exhales the accumulated levels of carbon dioxide which can cause us to feel sleepy or tired. Plus this will get your body transporting energy to those minor blood vessels and muscle groups. Generally, the more rapid the movement the better it is for your body and mind to prime themselves for a health and fitness session and is definitely the most important part of becoming physically motivated and making your mind active enough to stay interested.
BUILDING STRENGTH AND TRAINING HARDER
My second step on the road to a better way of living was body-weight exercises. Gym membership and equipment can be expensive and space-consuming and may not get the high volume of usage that we intended for it. It can also become boring if we’re not familiar with the vast range of exercises and routines that can be performed. A bodyweight exercise routine can actually be better for you than heavy equipment or a strenuous pace of adding weight and increased repetition goals. Exercises like body-weight squats, push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, lunges, planks, jumping jacks, lateral leg raises, hip raises and then maybe on to more advanced movements like mountain climbers, burpees or wide-grip push-ups.
MIXING ROUTINES AND RECOVERY/REST
It would be a wise move to mix up your routine and alternate between cardio exercises and strength training, even breaking the exercises into blocks to be performed on different days to give certain muscle groups rest and recovery periods and give your body time to replenish energy reserves. This will help you on all levels of motivation and determination and maximise the benefits while minimising the drawbacks such as soreness, stiffness and periods of low energy. Never knock yourself for days of rest as recovery is most important and it is of utmost importance to protect yourself against strain or injury as unfortunately even the fittest of us have been put out of action for overdoing it or pushing ourselves when we should have been recuperating.
As your levels of fitness and confidence increase you should be adding frequency, intensity and time limits while decreasing intervals (short breaks between exercises) to really challenge yourself and push through the limits that you may have previously struggled to reach.
YouTube is a great way to prepare your mind for bodyweight routines and will not only show you a wide variety of exercises and approaches but can teach you proper form and posture which is systemic in preventing injury and strain. It can also help to give you some great ideas about substituting everyday household items for gym equipment like benches and weights.
WARMING DOWN AND STRETCHING
The final part of every workout session has to be warming down and stretching. This will only take a couple of minutes but is a vital part of reducing muscle tension and fatigue while aiding the muscles and tendons in releasing the build-up of muscle toxins such as lactic acid which can cause the discomfort of stiffness and soreness and prolong the recovery period.
It is also worth mentioning that even when not exercising active rest days will definitely benefit your approach to fitness and help you to improve your habits with very little effort. This means everything from running up and down the stairs with enthusiasm or increasing the pace of everyday tasks and chores such as cleaning or gardening. Overall this is sure to help you feel positive and stay motivated while building up the confidence you may never have thought you would have.
LONG-TERM GOALS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Now that you are armed with the knowledge and understand how to apply it you can tailor your routines to suit your own specific needs and goals. Everyone is unique and has a different idea of what it means to be fit and healthy so never compare yourself to others unless it is to learn from them. We can become demotivated and hurt our own confidence by wishing we were better or stronger or more competitive. Only ever compare yourself to the person you were last month or year and your level of fitness and confidence will skyrocket with a correct and balanced approach.
Above all start easy and pace yourself if you feel it is for you and the psychological benefits are immediately noticeable. You will naturally progress to a higher level with very little effort.
Author: Darren (Volunteer)