As I’m hoping most of you feasted on some pancakes yesterday, I’m sure many of you pondered the question “So what am I going to give up for Lent?”. The usual answer is sweets, chocolate, drink etc. Then the next 40 days and nights are spent trying to avoid these items and feeling bad when you do succumb to temptation. To be honest I don’t like the whole notion and concept of giving up something or banning something from your diet so I normally try to take up something.
This Lent I’m taking up exercise! Yes very simple and something you probably might think I get enough of but since I’ve started travelling in December my regular exercise routine has disappeared. In work I’m normally on my feet all day treating patients as a Physiotherapist before going to football training or gym sessions. All my fitness and strength training is planned by my coaches so I really don’t have to think about any of it, just follow the plan and push myself as hard as possible at training.
Now I’ve no routine, no scheduled training sessions or gym membership. Sure I’m doing walking and cycling tours, dancing until the sun comes up and some hiking but no strength training and to be honest I’m beginning to see the deconditioning. You can eat all the healthy food in the world but you need to exercise too!Our bodies are majority bone and muscle, which both require continuous strengthening for maintenance and development. This doesn’t mean lifting heavy weights and walking around looking like a bodybuilder. This just means working yourself a little harder than normal and most importantly working up a sweat and feeling a bit out of breath. HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is basically body weight exercises performed repeatedly for a short duration in a circuit format and are perfect for strengthening. They require no equipment just you, some space, a stopwatch and plenty of determination. Add in an exercise mat for comfort and a chair to make some exercises harder. The range of exercises you can do are endless so just Google “bodyweight exercises”, “HIIT exercises” or complete a program suggested by your Physiotherapist, personal trainer or favourite social media fitness person. Just remember if you are completely new to exercise or carrying some injuries it is worth getting advice from a professional and I am obviously going to recommend a chartered Physiotherapist.
When starting any new exercise program, your body will take time to adapt to it, the next morning you will more than likely feel some muscle soreness. Stretching and a proper warm-up and cool-down are essential to prevent muscle soreness. Stretching is also paramount to prevent injury and increase flexibility. Physiotherapist and yoga instructor Orla Crosse has some great stretching advice so check out her website and social media accounts.Our health is really our wealth. But how many of us now spend the majority of days in sedentary positions? How many of us de-prioritise our health and fitness for long hours in the office or time spent looking after others when really we should be looking after ourselves and our health. One of the best ways to maintain any new skill or commitment is consistent practice and repetition until it becomes a habit. Exercise is a habit, it is a lifestyle option and a really positive one not just for you but for your friends, family and colleagues. As more than likely you will begin to exercise together or simply walk up the stairs to that meeting or go for a weekend hike together. Having an exercise buddy is great, it makes you accountable to someone, you won’t want to let them down by missing a session and likewise they’ll feel the same. A group environment has also proven benefits for motivation, socialisation and participation levels.
So let’s get moving and #exerciseforlent! I’ll be sharing my exercise locations via my Instagram story. My aim is to do a minimum of 3 HIIT sessions a week so if you catch me slacking be sure to call me out!! Any questions on this type of exercise or advice on injuries just get in touch. #exerciseforlent