My latest article on Huffington Post. Read the original article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/karen-laing/24-ways-to-transform-your_b_12572478.html
If you’re a fitnessphobe, you know exercise is good for you but it’s hard to know where to start. Running seems scary and there are ‘fit’ people everywhere with toned thighs in garish leggings.
As a fitness business owner, who’s been dubbed ‘addictively active’ I’m sharing my 24 top tips to getting you from where you are now, to becoming just that little bit fitter:
- Swap ‘let’s meet at a coffee shop’ for ‘let’s chat whilst we walk’. Nattering whilst having a brisk walk, or run, is good for the soul as well as your heart, lungs and legs. You can always coffee after.
- Take your kids out. Run or play with them. Teach your kids to scoot, cycle or just take them to the playground or forest. Be active with them. It’s not just good for you but you’ll be a positive role model.
- Find an accountability buddy. When you’re feeling sloth-like it can be tempting to laugh it off with friends who’d rather drink wine! Find that friend who will encourage you to move – and then drink wine!
- Learn something new. Myelination, the term for the way your body develops the sheath around your nervous system, never stops. Learning a new skill helps this myelination. Not only is it good for your headspace, it’s great for your nervous system too.
- Try out an active break. Chilling by the pool is great but learning water sports, hiking, kayaking or skiing can be so much fun and relaxing. Plus you get some of #4 in too.
- Go on a fitness adventure. Try zorbing, a ropes course or jet skiing. It doesn’t all have to be cross trainers and bootcamps. Fitness can be fun too.
- If you want to try something new, don’t just try one class. If it’s yoga, try five different classes so you can pick the one you enjoy the most. As a Pilates instructor I know I can’t please everyone. Nor do I try to. So don’t give up on yoga or whatever it is because you don’t like it the first time you try it.
- Ask your fit friends for advice or class/coach recommendations. They’ll be chuffed that you asked for their advice and they are likely to have gone through the #8 process many times.
- Commit to a time frame for your new active habit. Whether it’s walking the school run or learning tennis, you’re unlikely to ‘get it’ the first time. A 2009 study from researchers at University College London found it took on average 66 times to turn something into a habit.
- Diarize your workout or active time. If your activity is scheduled after your important stuff, it’s likely to get missed. Schedule your activity as your priority, then work the other stuff around it. You and your health are worth it.
- Set a 20-30 minute daily challenge. The NHS has just published research which shows 20 minutes of activity every day cuts your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26%.
- Use fresh air as your reward (rather than chocolate). Set yourself a target: ‘If I get x, y and z done I’ll treat myself to a run/bike ride/walk outside.’ Not only is it great for your health but you’ll begin to see exercising outside as a positive reward and want to do it more.
- Buy some awesome sports kit. A 2012 study from Northwestern University found that wearing task focused clothing (like a lab coat) helped the wearer perform their tasks to a higher standard. The study authors think the same could be true of workout gear. Wearing ‘killing it’ kit could trigger your ‘killing it’ workout attitude.
- Enter an event. You can do this from your sofa! Find something that looks just out of your comfort zone. Perhaps a hike, a 5k run or an open water swim. There are events out there for every soul. You could even set something up yourself.
- Get out for your activity before midday. Your cortisol (stress hormone) levels are naturally higher in the morning and drop off before bedtime, so go with your hormonal flow on this one! Also Vitamin D levels are higher before midday so you’ll be topping up your vitamin levels too.
- Set yourself a challenge and write it down or share it with your accountability buddy. It could be to run or walk a certain distance, in a certain time or just to do an agreed number of minutes of activity every day for an agreed number of days.
- Use your training time to catch up on an empowering podcast. Body and soul food.
- Swap drinks with friends for a game of badminton or roller disco.
- Have more sex! According to Superdrug’s online ‘Sexercise’ tool (designed to workout how many calories you burn having sex – because this is always your focus I’m sure) you can burn around 60 calories during the average 30 minute session but you could burn nearly 300 if you kept at it for 80 minutes.
- Find a great class near you. You don’t have to join a gym. Finding a regular class will encourage you out of the house at the same time each week.
- Just put your trainers on. No matter how much you dither at the door, putting on your kit and walking outside of your front door makes the workout so much closer than thinking about it.
- Skip the need for perfection. I live by the mantra that I never regret a workout. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t achieve your day’s workout goals. You went out and tried.
- Make exercise triggers. A 2015 study published in the journal Health Psychology found the most consistent exercisers were those who’s exercise was triggered by a habit. So a cue could be a time of day or post school run. The brain knows it’s time to exercise.
- Shut up and do it. You can find a million excuses but eventually you’ll run out! Just get on with it.