Exercise for the right reasons
This week we are celebrating Exercise Right Week. This is an annual awareness campaign by Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is the peak body for exercise and sports science professionals in Australia and is dedicated to helping Australians live healthier and more active lives.
Something for every season… what’s your reason to move?
Your reasons to exercise can change regularly. For instance, in my life so far I’ve exercised for these reasons;
- For fun, because it feels good (yes, yoga, I’m talking to you!),
- I’m super competitive and love competition,
- To make new friends and join a community,
- Because I’m part of a team and don’t want to let others down,
- To clear my head,
- To make me feel better,
- To learn something new,
- To improve fitness,
- To keep the dog happy,
- To become stronger,
- To recover from injury,
- To improve my posture,
- To make me feel less anxious,
- To see/visit somewhere cool,
- To lower stress (thank you boxing),
- To help feel less stiff and sore,
- To get out of the house and enjoy nature,
- To encourage the family to move more,
- And the list goes on. The point is, whatever speaks to you most right now, let that be the driving reason to get you moving today. Tomorrow might be a different reason altogether, and that’s okay.
Focus on how you’re feeling during exercise
When we focus on thoughts or goals like “I’m going to do 20 push-ups by the end of this month”; or “I’m going to exercise every week to help me lose that 10 kilos”, we are concentrating on outcomes. The thing about focusing on outcomes is we aren’t always in control of them. This can leave you disheartened. Not only that, but sometimes, even if you reach that magical milestone or goal, it can leave you feeling a bit empty.
It’s easy to overestimate the happiness of future goals (dare I say arbitrary goals in many cases) and underestimate the feeling everyday day good habits have on our wellbeing – both physically and mentally. Many people not only feel good during exercise but immediately afterward too. Focus on the moment.
Deep dive into the moment
Concentrating on how you feel during exercise can double as a great opportunity for practicing mindfulness, how you feel in that exact moment. What sounds can you hear? Is there anything you can smell? What are the sensations you are experiencing? Can you feel any wind against your skin or the sun’s warmth? How is your breathing? Do you feel quite relaxed walking at a comfortable pace? Or can you feel the power pulsing through your legs as push your feet against the pedals of a bike hard? Or the slicing of your arms through the water if you’re swimming? Exercise can be a chance for us to disconnect from external distractions, but also reconnect with our senses.
What type of exercise makes you feel best?
One of the most important lessons when it comes to exercise is to pick an exercise that makes you feel good! It doesn’t need to be expensive or take place at a beautiful idyllic beach 3 hours’ drive away. It also doesn’t have to be high intensity. Walking is probably the most understated, but the best bang for buck exercise. You may not always feel like you had a great run/game etc. But it’s rare (if ever) that you come back from a walk and say to yourself “Wow! That was terrible!”
Most people respond well to moderate-intensity exercise, and not everyone who does vigorous exercise feels good. If you know, for instance, that high-impact activity does not agree with your knees, then there are plenty of other things you can do which are better for your body and still feel good!
Is it time to shake things up and learn something new?
We know exercise is great for us physically, but the increased blood flow to the brain from exercise delivers many mental health benefits too. Why not take it to a new level of awesome by learning a new skill or honing an existing one? Whether it’s shooting hoops better; throwing a Frisbee well; or learning a few dance steps and looking semi-coordinated, there is a lot to be said for gaining mastery over a skill for its mental health benefits. Yes, it does involve being brave when you learn a new skill – remember, it’s rare to be good at something straight up, so be kind to yourself while you are learning.
Over time, as the skill comes together, you are rewiring your brain and improving your mental agility in learning new things. Not only that, but once you get good at something it’s so satisfying. Accomplishment is one of the factors which underpins many positive psychology models and forms part of what’s important to flourish or thrive mentally.
When was the last time you felt accomplished at something new?
Why exercise needs to be like your old treasured memories
Exercise should be like one of your favourite memories. Sometimes the details fade, but you can remember the way someone (exercise) makes you feel. It’s really powerful to tap into. No matter what your starting point, your background, age, or ability, exercise is a powerful tool to help you feel good now, and for your future self.
Ultimately, find something you enjoy, an activity that makes you feel good, and do that regularly. Ideally, we should all be moving for at least 30 minutes a day but remember that even small increments are going to help. 10 minutes is better than no minutes!
How can Lite n’ Easy help?
Lite n’ Easy offers a variety of healthy meal plans on our chef-inspired seasonal menu, backed by expert dietitians. Enjoy the convenience of delicious, healthy meals delivered to your door.