Peer Support Network
When considering best self-care practices, well, physical fitness is a thing…and it’s actually pretty major. Some pretty rad and established individuals have conducted studies, wrote books and made videos on the significance of exercise in enhancing many aspects of our health and overall functioning. Doctors also say increased physical activity helps us produce and release endorphins: also known as the “feel good” chemical naturally created in our body. Further, the longer and harder we workout the more “feel good” chemicals our body actually generates. Unlike food or unhealthy coping mechanisms, exercise genuinely has the ability to relieve us from a host of issues, while preventing additional ones. Thus, physical fitness serves as a double-edged sword: an automatic mood booster and health regulator…So, are you ready to run?
Ready, set, g……what’s that you say?
….”but exercise kind of entails a certain level of work, right?”
Sure it does; but, as mentioned above, the benefits far outweigh your efforts.
“Just do it!” Get moving in a way that best suits your interest. It really doesn’t matter which activity you choose, just so long as you get moving. Even if sport or fitness really isn’t your thing, or you haven’t mustard up the courage yet, don’t count yourself out. Aside from your (possibly obligatory) bike rides to and from work, even going on intentional and relaxing walks in the morning or evening have the power to bring the “feel goods” in to your day. Additionally, sometimes choosing a source or two of inspiration can help to get you fired up or take that first step out the door. Designating a fitness buddy or accountability partner goes a long way too.
Easing into the Run
When beginning any workout, it’s prudent to start out slow and easy. If you are just getting started with an exercise program or plan, try not to focus too much on intensity or speed. Just focus on moving and (if you can) try to have fun! Research shows that when we enjoy our time exercising, positive messages are sent to our brain and it’s likely we’ll want to repeat the experience. Try it out for size: set aside 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week to get those “feel good” juices flowing. Chances are, if you don’t overdue it, you won’t regret your time spent working out.
Maintaining your Stride
For many of us, it’s not the “getting started” piece that we struggle with, but the ability to keep going after our motivation has waned. Motivation is like a short distance sprint: it feels good and electrifying in the moment, but never lasts for long. The truth is, motivation is what gets us started but it’s discipline that keeps us going.
Discipline…yes…the often forsaken virtue. Discipline is like the endurance you need for a long distance run. How does one increase their level of self-discipline? Well, there are a series of different techniques that work for different folks. Perhaps, first, ponder on some of your current or past healthy habits to see what’s worked best for you. One strategy that works well for me is creating trackers for several months at a time and posting them on my wall. It gives me a chance to see where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’d like to get;which serves as a daily accountability holder.
Picking up the Pace
If you are someone who is well established into a workout routine, consider ways to bring your fitness to the next level. Are there more repetitions that you can attempt to tackle? Can you increase your intensity or time? Shave another minute or two off your current pace? Another lap? One more kilo? You know where you can kick it up a notch. Try not to settle, but instead push yourself to the next level. Oh, and remember, ‘you’re looking good’!
Sometimes having a goal to work towards is enough to keep us going. Other times, even our goals can seem impossible to achieve. The trick is to keep our goals close enough where we can see them, but far enough away where we actually have to work to reach them. What can help with this is breaking our goal into smaller, more obtainable goals and focusing on completion.
Remember to take time to reflect on your progress- preferably shortly after your physical activity. It is here where you can reward and commend yourself for the efforts you put in. Take slow sips of water with pride and embrace those “feel good” vibes.
Once you have established your workout routine (because, again, routine reinforces discipline), handle it with care; as you are looking to have it carry you over the long haul. You can use it to cope with life, our PC experience, to prepare for upcoming situations or to “keep the sailboat floating” regarding positive self-care habits. Metaphorically and literally speaking, attention to stretching will only maximize your benefits.
*Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the Peer Support Network if you’d like some additional support in reaching your fitness goals.