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When I think of an intensive sweaty gym class, I am immediately thrust back into the trauma of high school PE lessons. Standing in the freezing cold in a silly kit waiting for one of the team captains to choose you to join their team – it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it!
It is fair to say that those of us who were the first ones to drop out during the bleep test have a complicated relationship with exercise; we know we must do it to stay healthy, but going to the gym or going for a run can summon genuine feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. Therefore, these suggestions may be helpful for those wishing to be more active, but in a gentle rather than intensive way.
This has become something of a cliché in recent months, but the benefits of a brisk walk cannot be stressed enough! At the time of writing, we have spent approximately eight months confined to our houses or student rooms. As a result, it feels as though we have all rediscovered the simple joys that a walk brings. Not only is walking wonderful for your physical health, getting outdoors and breathing in the fresh air can be the break we need from our claustrophobic four walls. It is important to check in with yourself, and a walk can provide you with that time to reconnect. Download a podcast or an audiobook, find a safe, well-lit path, and move at your own speed.
That feeling of breathlessness, a rapid heartbeat, and shaking muscles after an intense work-out is hardly pleasurable. Although some thrive from that feeling, for others, it can be demotivating, thus making you feel worse than before you began the exercise. If you have ever felt like giving up after a bad gym session, yoga may be the work-out for you. This ancient practice is more than exercise – it is a spiritual experience. Upon stepping on the mat, there is no pressure to perform to any standard. Yoga is about understanding your limits, being open to self-growth, and moving with your breath. Although there are undeniable physical benefits to yoga, such as muscle strengthening and flexibility, more emphasis needs to be placed on the mental and spiritual benefits. Take time to slow things down and work within yourself. With yoga having remained influential for thousands of years, why not take this opportunity to see what the hype is about?
If the spiritual element of yoga doesn’t appeal to you, why not try simple stretches? Every hour or so, get up from behind your laptop, do some jogging on the spot, warm your legs and arms up and stretch into your body for just a few minutes. As we have all found with our experiences working from home, it is easy to become uncomfortably seized. It’s so bad that even the exercise-phobic amongst us have realised something has to be done to alleviate this feeling! By feeling the energy coursing through your body, it is a mindful way to take a break from work and focus on yourself. Doing this a few times a day will help break up the long work sessions and leave you feeling better about yourself!
In shifting your priority from pursuing peak physical fitness to achieving a more mindful state of being, you avoid lapsing into any negative feelings towards yourself. Wellness is more than a trip to the gym; nor do you have to have a religious exercise schedule to live a healthy lifestyle. It is possible to be active and gentle with yourself at the same time!