This weeks’ weight management blog focuses on exercise. Before you burst into tears because you’ve already tried it all, this isn’t about joining a gym, boot-camp or committing yourself to do 30 minutes of structured exercise in your already busy day.
This is about using what you already do in a more efficient way. Most of us do far more exercise than we are aware of we just have to maximise it.
Obstacles to exercise
Despite knowing the many benefits that we get from exercise, most of us still see it as a chore. Common obstacles include not having enough time, exercise being too painful or difficult, being too tired, being too unhealthy to start, exercise being boring etc.
However to gain the benefits of exercise, you don’t need to devote hours to it or start a new regime. If you’re not ready or can’t commit to a structured exercise program, consider physical activity as a lifestyle choice rather than a single task that you need to check off your to do list.
Review your daily routine, you probably do more than you think you do. Even small activities can add up over a day.
Cleaning the house, tidying the garden, vacuuming or taking a walk around the block are all exercise. Use the mindfulness technique that you used last week to focus on your muscles and the parts of your body that you are using and then just increase the effort you put into it a bit.
The key to making exercise a habit is to commit to a little every day. Even if you don’t have time for structured exercise you can adapt your daily routine to be more effective.
Use your head
Still feeling unsure that you can increase your exercise and make a difference to your body? You may find the following study interesting, published in August 2011 in the journal Frontiers in Movement Science and Sport Psychology, a group of forty-three sports students were randomly assigned to one of four groups.
One group did real muscle contractions. Three groups combined real and imaginary contractions in ratios of either 1 real to 3 imaginary, 2 real to 2 imaginary, or 3 real and 1 imaginary.
The students “were instructed to imagine maximal contraction efforts as vividly as possible, using kinesthetic imagery (‘you should imagine the sensation associated with a contraction effort, but your muscles must stay relaxed’).” Observers checked to make sure that the imaginary contractions were not accompanied by small muscle movements. At the end of each workout session, the students rated the vividness of their kinesthetic images on a scale from 1 (no imagery could be performed) to 5 (vivid imagery could be performed). There was also a control group who did no exercise at all.
Results showed that imaginary contractions can have similar effects to the real thing. So next time you think you don’t have time to do physical exercise then use your mind instead.
Next week: What happens if nothing seems to work?