Rossendale Free Press
Take each day as it comes for a fitter and healthier new you
SMALL STEPS CAN BE ALL YOU NEED TO IMPROVE YOUR BODY AND MIND THIS YEAR, SAYS FITNESS EXPERT RUTH LYNCH
IN my first column of a new year I traditionally encourage readers to make resolutions that will support a more active and healthy lifestyle, or recommend different ways to work off Christmas indulgences.
But this year I’m not going to go there. With the Covid pandemic still in full swing and the uncertainty of when it’s going to end, I’m simply going to suggest one thing – take each day as it comes.
Making a plan each morning, or the night before, will mean you are more likely to stick to it. With changes happening so quickly at the moment, it’ll remove the chance of your plans getting cancelled due to changes in Government guidelines – or rained off due to bad weather!
With that in mind, here is my checklist of things I’ll be trying to include in my daily plan for 2021:
IT’S TIME TO GET MOVING!
STARTING with the most obvious one, ‘get moving’ is really important to add to your 24-hour planner.
Family life can be busy, but as adults you just need to factor 30 minutes of movement or exercise in, or 60 minutes for kids. Don’t worry, it doesn’t all have to be done at once (or in Lycra, unless that’s your thing!). Why not plan in shopping locally on foot or a kick about in the park?
If the weather looks dicey, you could plan 15 minutes before tea-time for the family to have a dance around the kitchen, get some lunges in whilst you wait for the kettle to boil or see which online exercise classes are running.
Anything that makes your breathing faster and makes you feel warmer will be beneficial. You’ll start to feel the benefits quickly – feeling and sleeping better. It also keeps your heart healthy, your bones strong, and reduces the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes.
IT may seem counter-productive, especially if it’s a day when you aren’t able to fit in any exercise, but giving your body a chance to relax can be as important as a training session or bike ride.
If your day ahead is filled with chores and responsibilities, plan in a short period to help your body and mind relax. Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting in a dark room with candles, it could also mean going for a 15-minute walk or quick run to get away from the busy house.
As I said, this is all about planning – so think about when you can fit this short breathing space into your day.
If you are unsure where to start and need some structure to your relaxation, Yoga is also a fantastic practice to get involved in.
There are likely to be live online classes provided by your local fitness provider, or you can find free YouTube videos aimed at all abilities.
IF you wake up in the morning after another restless night, perhaps your planning can focus on the evening rather than first thing in the day?
Being stressed will affect your sleep, and lack of sleep will make you feel more worked up and anxious, so this is an important one to tackle.
Perhaps it’s just a case of making a plan to relax before bed instead of rushing around at a million miles an hour before crashing into bed at midnight? Ceasing screen time an hour before bed will also help, as will having a ‘wind down’ routine you always stick to.
As I mentioned before, finding some space to get active each day will promote good sleep, even if it’s just 10 minutes or a quick walk around the block.
COMPETITIVE game of football, taking the kids somewhere new or meeting a friend for a walk or jog will be sure to lift your spirits.
You may not feel like it when you’re lying in your cosy bed first thing in the morning, but planning an activity later in the day will give you something to look forward to AND release some endorphins to boost your mood and reduce stress.
The effort you put in doesn’t have to be particularly strenuous to release these happy chemicals, as long as your heart starts pumping and your breathing gets faster, the endorphins will rush to reduce the brain’s perception of pain and give you a feel-good feeling in return.
If you notice your kids have been a little quieter recently, or you are dreading getting out of bed, perhaps planning in an 11am endorphin rush could be just what you need?
With local restrictions changing as often as the weather, making future plans such as holidays, family picnics or sports tournaments is near impossible. But by planning a single day ahead, you can give you and your family some focus and keep everyone happy and healthy!
You may not feel like it when you’re lying in your cosy bed first thing in the morning, but planning an activity later in the day will give you something to look forward to...