At Beingwell we understand that working towards living a little bit better each day isn’t always easy and can really feel like hard work sometimes. And when it comes to moving well and trying to keep up with daily exercise (even if it’s just whipping the hoover round and hanging the laundry out) we have very mixed opinions about it.
Grace McMahon, our delightful expert Life Coach, interviewed the Beingwell family and here’s what she found out:
Some of us are super sporty, love getting outside to run through the hills, get the blood pumping and sweat dripping, and others are quite the opposite (that would be me!) who will push our heels into the earth to avoid that morning workout. But, moving well really does keep us feeling good, physically, mentally and emotionally so it’s not all blood, sweat and tears - and it doesn’t need to be to get a good routine of daily movement.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy exercise?
We asked the team how much they enjoy exercise, where 1 is 'Lazy Larry - absolutely not' and 10 is 'Sporty Susan - can’t get enough' - I was expecting a few middle-ground answers and a couple of the sportier members to rate this highly. I was in fact, surprised to find most of our team really rate exercise (who knew exercise could be so joyous!).
But when we asked about how easy we find motivating ourselves to actually exercise, the results were more like what I was expecting - a mixture of ‘usually’, ‘mostly’ and ‘sometimes’. Absolutely no one said they rarely find it difficult to motivate themselves - so if you love being active but finding the time and motivation is a struggle for you, you’re not alone!
Whether you love to move or would rather lounge peacefully on the couch, when motivation is low it can make it feel almost impossible to commit, right? I asked the Beingwell family how they muster the energy to be active when motivation is low, for me it’s a personal pep talk “go get ‘em, you got this” monologue to start moving or I love a cracking tune to blast and prance about too (think lanky giraffe dancing). A common answer from the team was finding a friend or buddy to boost motivation helps them stay accountable for their movement - if you're the same, check out our new tool buddyboost!
The majority however went for the bite-the-bullet technique, just suck it up and go! Which sometimes really is the only way to get through those lulls of energy. Although it’s not always as easy as that in reality, we do tend to feel so much better in ourselves when we do push through the barriers. Now, it’s really quite annoying to be told to suck it up and get on with it, but when we do, and we commit to the activity, we get the dopamine pumping, the mood boost and feel energised (even if it only kicks in after 20 minutes of lying on a cold floor after a HIIT workout).
That being said, pushing ourselves sometimes just truly isn’t worth it. Maybe we need to rest or we have other priorities - so sometimes letting the fatigue wash over you and waiting till tomorrow can be just as needed and beneficial to keep up with habits. We still need rest when we’re trying to keep active or build new fitness habits - rest prevents injuries, allows for recovery and keeps us able to maintain these habits long term!
What's your ultimate fave activity to get your heart racing, blood pumping and dopamine firing?
I asked the team what they would pick to do if there were no limits, like those pesky daily responsibilities we have (eye roll). The answers were interesting; surfing, skiing, climbing, open-water swimming (yes please!), snowboarding, dancing! When I live at the beach, I’ll be swimming in the sea every day, doing yoga at sunset (yes I’d be that person) and finding a surf instructor for sure.
Alas, I do not live at the seaside (yet), so when we’re not frivolously living out the dream, most of the team prefer a sweaty and intense session, but a couple also said they’d opt for a slow and steady flow of movement to get daily activity in. This highlights the need to find what works for you, we don’t all like to be in the gym, we’re not all aerobic movers, we’re not all going to find the same exercise routines fit into our lives as they do for others, so if even the thought fitness makes you feel tired why not explore new activities, try different intensities, try something totally different to see if that keeps you driven!
When we asked about realistic and doable daily activities it was apparent that many of our team members have furry friends to get them out and about (disclaimer: dogs are cute sure, but they’re not just for Christmas or to force you to move, it’s almost like having a child that never learns to answer back - which might be appealing - but it’s not just a walk in the park - pun intended). Others suggested running, yoga, walking (without pooches) which are fairly simple, easy and cheap movement options. Even if your daily exercise takes up 10 minutes, that's better than an extra 10 mins in bed or sat watching TV in the evening (both of which we can still do). We don’t have to be athletes to get the benefits of exercise, and we certainly don’t need to be doing the latest crazes - keep it simple and straightforward to help build up a good daily routine.
When you’re building new routines, doing exercise that you enjoy will really help stick to it. When we exercise our reward centres in the brain activate which gets the dopamine flowing around the body, making us feel good (as well as being a pain reliever to give you that push to get to the top of the hill). This activation of the reward centre actually keeps us coming back for more, so maintaining the habit will feel much easier.
We also wanted to know when our team found it easiest to exercise - morning, afternoon or evening. The responses were evenly spread, and it was noted that this varies day-to-day. Some prefer a morning workout, to warm up for the day, others like to do something in the afternoon to break up the working day, and others find the evening the best time to move. Our routines can be flexible to fit around our needs on the day. If you usually like to workout in the morning, but wake up feeling groggier than the grey skies, don’t force yourself to do that workout till later. The more flexible our habits and routines are, the easier it will be to stick with them.
Why do you exercise?
There are a million and one reasons to move well daily, from physical health ensuring healthy functioning, protecting from illness and diseases to the social aspect of a group activity, and the lesser-acknowledged benefits to our mental health with movement helping reset, boost and maintain good mood keeping depression and anxiety at bay.
Our team all had a number of reasons to exercise, including the above, as well as satisfying their competitive natures, appearance effects and social pressures. The pressures around exercising and keeping fit can feel utterly tremendous - which can be a huge barrier for us. Whether you feel the heat from being around others at the gym and trying to ignore the macho muscles bench pressing a small elephant in the corner, or at the yoga studio with the bendy Wendy’s flexing for days or even just the run through the park with a sea of eyes watching your technique - it’s a lot, right?
With so many pressures, moving well every day can feel like a monumental task. But in reality, those simple things - the daily walk listening to a podcast, the 10-minute yoga sun salutation, the gentle jog, the housework, can be the most effective for sticking with it. And if that doesn’t work for you try exercise snacking.
Movingwell mission: exercise is important, and has an abundance of benefits as we’ve discussed. But be sure to do what works for you - not what Imran down the road is doing because “it’s the best thing they’ve ever done!”. Keep it simple to help build up habits, unattainable goals will feel so much harder to meet, and keep it flexible (I don’t mean practise the splits every day) so you can make it work around everything in your life.