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"No - Not Another Exercise Day..."

"No - Not Another Exercise Day..."

Friday 28th April 2017

Hello! Step 4 and day 4 of the Feel Good Week! I am going to give you an easy one here - and that's exercise! Yeah!

Many moons ago, I would not tolerate, participate and certainly would not consent to any form of exercise outside of the necessary, compulsory hideous school sports activities. I hated it. Now, I am the most active person I know that loves getting up at the crack of dawn to start the day with a hot and sweaty gym or exercise session. How did that happen?

Running was my lever. When I say "lever", I mean something that allowed me to take a step outside of what I would normally associate with fun or enjoyment. It built a fitness in me that meant I could take on other activities without feeling that hatred for my heart rate rising to anything above "slightly out of breath". I will be honest though, when I initially thought that running may be worth a go, the first few months of short sharp bursts of jogging up the road on only a 1-2K stint, nearly had me collapsed at the side of the road, cursing the day I every brought a pair of trainers and wondering whether there was actually something fundamentally wrong with my lungs!

Running is one of those things that produces WALLS. You will be jogging along thinking "this isn't so bad" and then WHAM. The wall appears from nowhere. You can't imagine how you could possibly reach the end of the street, no matter the planned 3k run ahead you had thought you would be doing! Some people stop at the WALL and that was me: I would give up and walk a bit, jog a bit and turn round a bit too. Over the months though, I found a stubborn streak in me (that I was somewhat surprised by) and suddenly instead of giving up and walking the way home with a tail between my lactic filled legs, I just carried on running: What was the worst that could happen?

The WALL started appearing less and the kilometres I had been covering were much more manageable and then it happened. It dawned on me over night, a realization like the one you get when you look at your 14 year old son and think "where the hell did my baby go?" It's something that happened, without me really being aware of it happening and suddenly I was actually enjoying the run. I loved the scenery, the outside, the smells and most of all...the PEACE! Also, I was realizing my mood afterward would be given a thorough shake up. I would feel high, happy, bright and for the whole time I had been out running, the world had seemed to make a bit more sense: my husband not quite so annoying, my children not quite so demanding.

I would never run to music. Firstly, it's dangerous. I think it is so important to be able to hear traffic or other hazards that can appear on roads and footpaths. Secondly, I love that silence, just the hum of distance roads, singing birds, wind, even rain and the textures of the ground beneath my trainers. It gave me time out to think, dream and switch off, feeling and hearing the gentle rhythm of my pounding heart and breathing that now seemed less painful, was like a hypnotic beat that regulated me, relaxed me and kept me strong. After a few months of perseverance and a gradual build in distance, I realized how much I was actually enjoying this new activity - and it was keeping me fit: Bonus.

I undertake a lot of other exercises now to keep the "feeling good" going without taking the running too far. My family and friends are fully aware of the issues I have created over the yeas through unreasonable running miles, rest days left ignored next to the dent in my mattress where I should have been lying still and an ignorance to stretches. I have embarked on a much rounder approach to exercise and not taking one thing too far. I bike, spin, cross train, row and undertake HIIt and circuits now too - I love my running still and I now carefully train to be "fit to run" and not "run to be fit".

To Boost Your Mood I would suggest you find your "lever", like I did with my running. If you are someone, who like I used to be, can not fathom why anyone would put their bodies through such pain; consider the sorts of activities you feel slightly drawn to. Your "lever" needs to be something you can turn from a general tolerance for, to a love and passion that keeps you happy, high and fit. Badminton, walking or hiking, biking, pilates, spinning, running, tennis, football, netball, boot camps, circuits, HIIT, gym sessions, swimming, body pump, body jam, body combat and a whole range of "body" you may find at your local gym - these are all quite accessible, can be done at home, there are adult clubs and sessions advertised locally, groups to join and fun to be had! Some of my best friends were met in a regular exercise Body Combat Class!

I have a few ladies whom have joined my Trainer Watch to try and improve fitness motivation. Not everyone has the time, spare effort and money to join and attend a local gym and not everyone has the energy to embark on some form of heart pumping after a day at work. Lots of us "like the idea" of getting up and doing a session at home, doing something to get the heart rate going before work and before their shower. This is shown to improve performance at work, gives energy and fires the mind, which lasts for the whole day! May be a HIIT session or DVD, Yoga or Exercise Class found on YouTube - so easy to find and free too! Lots of these folk set their alarm clocks the night before with such good intentions. And there's lots of those folk who switch that alarm off first thing in the morning and sleep for that extra hour instead, as they find their motivation is well and truly wrapped up in the warmth and comfort of the duvet!

Trainer Watch is a WhatsApp Group that requires a good old fashioned photo sent in on your exercise day. This is a photo of your feet, ready in trainers (no body needs to see faces at 6am in the morning!) I find that once your trainers are actually on, there's no turning back and you can feel energetic from just tying up those laces! So, with government guidelines recommending 5 sessions a week of 30 minutes where your heart rate is raised, you could quite easily make a dent in this with some morning sessions and use Trainer Watch for free if you like? A virtual gym buddy who you'd "meet at the gym" may be the virtual friend you need to meet in your living room or on your doorstep ready for a run!

Exercise is proven to produce happy minds. It is one of the most effective ways to improve you mental health. It can have such a positive affect on depression, anxiety, memory and stress, helps you sleep better and help you relax, why on earth would we avoid such a thing? There are drugs out there to do this, a chemically produced pill to do a variety of similar things but I would recommend a good trial of the naturally occurring high found from exercise first! Our bodies were designed to take a good pounding, to run around, fight, flight and have some fun - so where's yours? Find your "lever", whatever it is, and Improve Your Mood!