We’ve had a very long period of lockdown which has meant many people have not been able to exercise in the same way as usual. Equally, some have used the lockdown to kickstart their fitness journey, and if that is you… well done! 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the next few months, its reported that people are looking to get back into shape for the summer. While you may be raring to go on your fitness journey, it’s important to remember that slow and steady wins the race. Diving straight in at the deep-end could do more harm than good, not only for your body physically but also for your confidence – there’s nothing worse than trying to run a mile, getting halfway through, feeling that it’s too painful or difficult, and giving up before you’ve even really begun. 

That’s why my blog today is all about those small steps you can take to get started and fit your fitness in wherever you can! 

How much exercise do I need?

According to the NHS, you want to hit a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. This can be spread across the week in little pockets of time if you need to, although you’ll see more benefits if you can block out regular longer sessions (20-30 minutes at a time). The NHS also recommends that we do two strength training sessions per week – there’s no time requirement for this, though as a guide a strength training session may take around 20 minutes. Personally, I prefer exercises that combine strength and aerobics. It is just so much more efficient for me.

The best part: any kind of activity you enjoy is good for you, so long as it elevates your heart rate and gets you a little out of breath. If you hate running, try dancing or Zumba. If you hate yoga, try Pilates or tennis. And don’t forget about walking or cycling. There’s so much to try! Choose something you enjoy or try something different, you may just love it

 

  • Start Small

If you’re just starting out (or starting back up after a long break) nobody’s expecting you to run a 10K straight off the mark! Fitness is a game of endurance and building stamina over time, so it’s okay to start with what you can manage and work your way up. 

If you’re totally new to fitness, why not try walking before you can run? Getting out for half an hour’s brisk walk a day is so underestimated, but it can really ramp up your fitness, to the point where eventually even walking very quickly won’t leave you out of breath anymore. That’s how you know you can progress to jogging, running and so on.

 

  • Get Lifting

People can sometimes forget that strength training forms an incredibly important part of fitness. Women in particular might avoid it for fear of ‘bulking up’, but that’s actually very difficult to achieve, so don’t be worrying about that unless it’s the look you’re striving for (in which case you’ll need a more detailed, intensive plan to follow). Instead, strength training and flexibility exercises will help you to build your muscles and result in a firmer, more toned appearance, as well as improving your balance and reducing joint pain. You don’t even need fancy equipment to get started – if you don’t want to pay out for a gym membership or your own dumbbells, you can use your own body weight for most exercises. Here’s some ideas for you from the team at Forever Living on their video playlist here.  I love the HasFiT programmes because they are so easy to follow and have adaptations for all levels demonstrated.  It also means I don’t have to think of what exercise to do each day, I just hop on and follow the workout for the day. It stops me getting bored as I never know what to expect. Check out their website and YouTube channel.

 

 

  • Sort Your Schedule

I know that life can be hectic. Between work, side hustles, families to take care of, a social life to manage and the desire to sit down to binge the latest Netflix show, it can be difficult to figure out where to fit your exercise in.

The good news is this: you can fit your 150 minutes in any way that you choose.

There are more benefits to doing a longer session all at once (say 20-30 minutes per day), but if you have to squeeze in ten minutes between the school run and starting work, or even 5 minutes while the kettle boils, you’re still doing your body a world of good!

Try these hacks to bulk up your daily activity: 

  • Go for a walk on your lunch break
  • Walk to the supermarket instead of driving
  • Use an exercise bike or do some squats while watching your favourite TV show
  • Schedule in 15 minutes a day of active play with the kids
  • Wake up 20 minutes earlier than your family to fit in a short yoga session
  • If you have a job that requires you to be on the phone a lot, stand up and walk around while you’re chatting away!
  • Got housework to do? Turn it into a workout! Blast the music and work up a sweat while you scrub away!

I sometimes put on a favourite dance song whilst preparing supper and have a really good dance round the kitchen. It’s so much fun!

 

  • Fuel Up Properly

Exercise is only one part of the equation. We all know that nutrition plays a key role, too, not only in making you feel well generally, but also in helping to fuel you through your workouts. Ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet which includes 50% fruit or veggies, 25% protein and 25% carbohydrates on each plate, and a roughly 80/20 split of healthy foods and your favourites (because allowing yourself to eat everything in moderation will keep you from going crazy!). 

You could also try Forever Lite Ultra, a nutritious protein shake, ideal for breakfast or as a workout snack. This versatile product can be used if you’re watching your calorie intake, or as a filling protein snack if you’re trying to gain weight, as it contains 24g protein per serving. Or use it as part of your post-workout recovery regime. You can add some to your porridge or even add different fruits or veggies to it to mix up the flavour in your shake and consume a full range of nutrients easily. If you would like a brochure detailing the Forever products available, then please click here to request. 

Consider getting organised and plan your meals ahead and shop for ingredients. It will save you time and money and you are less likely to buy unhealthy food or snacks. Plus, you won’t have to keep thinking of what to eat each day. And whilst you are at it, why not try batch cooking and save some for another meal.  

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may like to read this one I wrote last year My Favourite Workout Routines Right Now. I have made progress since that blog and I now exercise 4- 5 days a week. Slow and steady wins the race. 

 

Exercise has been really pivotal in keeping my energy and fitness levels up and definitely feeds my heart and soul and I know it will help you too. So, go for it!

 

Source: Forever Blog by Rachel Sharpe, May 2021 (adapted)