Exercising with your wellbeing in mind is key. There is no point sticking rigidly to your usual exercise regime, if you really don’t feel like it. This year, we will see more people exercising intuitively so that their exercise suits their emotions. To me, wellness means taking a journey to improve your overall lifestyle and making healthy changes. It’s about developing your whole self and looking for the appropriate ways to make you a healthier, but also happier and more content, person – and if you exercise with how you are feeling at the time, it will contribute to the overall feeling of wellness.
Exercising intuitively means you are choosing to exercise for self-care and other health benefits, rather than just trying to burn calories.
If you need to clear your mind, get outdoors, whether that’s a run, walking or hiking. Running has many benefits, including helping with stress, returning focus and improving mood. As you focus purely on the act of running, it can really allow your mind to switch off. You are focusing on what your body is doing and concentrating on breathing and your body’s movement. It’s often time outside in the fresh air, unless you are using a treadmill, which also has major health benefits. The endorphins released during and after running can also help people experiencing anxiety to feel calmer. Some studies have shown that regular running can have the same effects as medication in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Being outside always helps my mind because there are lots of distractions and it’s especially better if you’re in nature – fresh air, breathing, trees and birds with lots to look at and feel and see and then that helps with perspective and feeling more energised.
If you feel low, try something fun, uplifting and cardio-based, such as dancing or zumba. While you can’t force happiness, you can do things to increase your endorphins, which in turn will actually increase the feeling of happiness and is so vital for your overall health and welfare. Keeping exercise fun and consistent is key. Dancing can really help improve your energy and boost your mood. It’s a great aerobic exercise and it’s easy to find a class online on YouTube. Just search for Zumba or dance and you’ll be able to dance your heart out.
If you’re feeling stressed, opt for yoga which will calm you down through breath work. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety and burnout, then coming to a yoga session can be really helpful for mental and physical health. Yoga is one of the most helpful ways to boost your mental health. It can really help clear and calm your mind. It can take practice to stop other thoughts coming in while you are practicing but yoga really can help fight negativity and improve your mood. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 85,000 workers in the US showed that mindfulness-based health practices, such as yoga, can improve employee wellbeing and ease productivity issues, such as burnout. A yoga workout can lead to greater feelings of vitality and lower levels of fatigue. Our MADE on demand wellness subscription offers a variety of bite-size yoga videos, such as a lunch break stretch, rest and restore yoga or bedtime relax.
If you’re feeling moody or hormonal, try something gentle such as wild swimming (or indoor swimming if it’s too cold!) Swimming has no end of health benefits. It burns calories, works the cardiovascular system, builds muscle and core strength, can help to alleviate stress, helps to improve coordination and also balance, posture and flexibility. Wild swimming allows you to reconnect with nature and some people believe that through repeated swimming in cold water, it’s possible to bring down blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce fat and increase libido. Also science suggests that being in cold water three times a week increases white blood cells which helps to fight infection and boost the immune system by activating antibodies and speeding up the metabolic rate. Many people also get a huge adrenaline rush from wild swimming and a sense of achievement which they may not get from swimming in a normal swimming pool. It’s worth bearing in mind safety when it comes to wild swimming though and if you’re not a strong swimmer then pool swimming may be more advisable because you’ve got the benefits of a lifeguard and depth markers, whereas in a lake or river you can never know for sure the strength of the current and depth. If you’re wild swimming you should never go on your own and it’s also important to always plan how you’re going to get out before you get in.
If you feel happy and content, challenge yourself with HIIT or something involving cardio and resistance training. I do lots of workouts at home, either virtually or on my own. I love HIIT because it’s usually a quick way to get the heart up and you don’t need lots of equipment or space. I love using kettlebells too and we have a number of HIIT videos on MADE on demand showing how to use these. They give you a fantastic challenge and are high-energy. HIIT workouts are proven to be more effective than just cardio, as your body continues to burn calories hours after you finish. They are also great fun! If you feel pensive or frustrated, get it all out with something like a boxercise class. Sometimes it just helps to let it all out. And a boxercise class is a great way to do this in a structured way. There are so many benefits of boxercise. It’s great for cardio and for balance as well as improving coordination but also reducing anxiety and stress. Punching a boxing bag is a great physical exercise but it can also help overcome negative feelings as it creates a response in your body that assists you to release tension and control your anger.
If you are feeling sociable, try a team sport. Often we only take part in team sports at school but these are a great way of making exercise fun and coming together with like-minded people. If you loved netball at school, why not find a local team? Or try something new…there are loads of team sports out there from ultimate frisbee to tag rugby (if you’re not ready for tackling!)
My main tip would be to get outside and do some exercise. When we exercise the body releases chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which boost our sense of wellbeing and suppress hormones that cause stress and anxiety. Exercise is about listening to your body and making it enjoyable. If it becomes a chore, you won’t want to do it. Any exercise has a really positive impact on your mental health but this is never more true than exercise in the great outdoors. Sunshine naturally boosts your production of the feel-good hormones and the fresh air will give you a real break…especially now the evenings are lighter. I love walking my dog Bugsy in the evenings as the fresh air and walking helps me decompress.
I find exercise and health practices, such as meditation, offer a really vital form of self-care. Our MADE on demand site offers a variety of meditations, such as a 10 minute walking meditation to reset and be positive. I find it gives me a real energy boost. Essentially, when meditating, we are trying to control our thoughts to focus our attention on the present moment: take note of all the sensations your body is aware of from the sounds around you to the feel of your clothes against your skin. Tune into your emotions and thoughts and try to observe them like a bystander, without any judgment.
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