Five easy ways to move more
Keeping active during the winter can be a grind, particularly when the weather is grim. Sometimes it can feel like exercise is a punishment rather than something to enjoy. One way to get a workout is to fit short bursts of activity into your day. This blog suggests five ways to get you moving more.
According to research by the UK Mental Health Foundation, moving more will help you feel more alert, better able to concentrate, and improve your sleep quality. Including some simple exercise routines into your daily routine will also help maintain your physical and mental health during the continued lock-down.
Try finding fun things that you can do which get you moving as well as lift your mood. Think of the micro-steps that you can take, which will help incorporate exercise into your busy life. Here are five simple ideas for moving more that work for me. What other suggestions can you add?
Walk it out
Walking with my husband and our dog means committing to them both - even when it is cold, muddy and wet. It is also lovely to chat with other people while maintaining social distance and enjoying the public green spaces where we live. Using the free NHS Active 10 App motivates me to do at least 30 minutes of brisk walking every day. It is easy to set up and has a handy reminder that gets me away from my desk and out walking.
A good tip from Mental Health Foundation is to go for a walk or a jog down the street before you start work for the day – this can help you feel like you have mentally ‘arrived’ at work. Doing the same when you finish your working day can help you leave your work mindset behind and switch on to your personal time.
Play with your pet as you tidy up
There’s something joyful about how my dog has so much fun from chasing a ball or playing with a tug toy. It energises me to step away from my laptop every few hours and play with him. I can even combine vacuuming the floor with throwing a ball, as he loves following me around as I tidy up. He’s even learned to fetch his favourite ball when he sees me reaching for the vacuum cleaner. Our playtime has become a great way to fit in a quick workout and lift my mood.
Do a micro-workout between video calls
I keep my hoop near my workstation to fit in a few minutes of hooping between calls. Just five minutes can make me feel more alive and energised. There are also lots of great hooping videos to inspire you via YouTube. If hooping doesn't suit you, how about skipping or doing some jumping jacks or making sure you stand up and have a good stretch? Try opening the window in your workroom for a few minutes. It will leave you feeling refreshed and more alive after pausing to breathe in some fresh air.
Kick up your heels and dance
Next time you reach to put the kettle on for a post-conference call pick-me-up. Stop and put on a lively music track instead. Then dance your way around the kitchen before making your beverage of choice. Sing along and kick up your heels. You'll feel all the better for it. My favourite tracks include - 'You can't stop the beat' from the musical Hairspray, 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams, 'Bohemian like you' by the Dandy Warhols, 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash and 'Dancing Queen' by Abba.
Find an online exercise class to suit you
If you’re indoors, look online for an activity that suits you, such as a home yoga video or a fitness class. My preference is Tai Chi Chuan which combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements. The gentle exercise is pleasurable, and the focus required means that I can also practice mindfulness. Doing a weekly class provides discipline and is also a social outlet during the multiple lock-downs when we have to stay at home. Damien Hoadley-Brown runs the group class that I attend, and you can find out more via his website Art of Changes Tai Chi. You can search online for tai chi classes in your area or find one using the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain website.
You might also like to take a look at the desk-based exercises suggested by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy These simple stretches, designed by expert physiotherapists, these can help ease the aches and pains associated with sitting for long periods at home.
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