5 ways to overcome your fitness excuses

It’s cold, it’s dark and there’s a global pandemic happening. There are plenty of reasons to skip fitness, says Oliver Smith, but the benefits will help you through this odd time
25th January 2021, 12:00pm
Oliver Smith


5 ways to overcome your fitness excuses

Woman With Hands On Ground & One Leg In The Air Teacher Body Language

The education system needs professionals with zest, energy and enthusiasm, which means we need a work-life balance that promotes physical exercise and mental vitality. 

Lockdown has only exacerbated the problem. Our brains are overstimulated and our bodies are underworked.

The NHS recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. With restrictions on leaving the house and the short winter days meaning limited daylight, it's easy to miss this target - especially when you're exhausted from a long day of virtual teaching. 

So instead of moving, we sit. Sitting all day makes the front of our bodies tighten up, especially the hip flexors and upper back (leading to muscular imbalances). It also deactivates the stabilising muscles, the glutes and abs. Over time, a sedentary lifestyle can mean increased risk of health issues and complications.

The good news is that we are in control of the situation - and, as humans, we are born to move. 

In his excellent book Born to Run, Christopher McDougall recounts the story of Tarahumara tribe who would often run up to 300 miles without a rest. Obesity, heart disease and high blood disease are non-existent within this athletic group in the Mexican Copper Canyons.

Such feats may not be realistic when you're trying to manage a packed schedule of Zoom lessons and marking, but we can all embrace movement and become healthier (both physically and mentally). 

Here are five common issues - and the simple ways to solve them: 

1. 'I don't have the time to exercise'

Solution: Book in a time and add it to your calendar, just as you would with a meeting. Be disciplined with this. I run at the same times every week and it has become a ritual. I don't miss sessions because they are in my diary. 

By arranging a session, you will naturally set a limit to your working hours. Changing the focus from work to play can revitalise you mentally and help your focus and concentration within work hours.

2. 'I'm tired all the time'

Solution: The hardest part is starting. It is easy to procrastinate, especially after a long day. I like to have all my equipment and kit ready. Once I have started, it allows me to switch off and clear my head of any worries. Exercise will also flood your body with endorphins, helping to improve your mood. In fact, over time you will benefit from improved stamina and resilience.  

3. 'I hate sport'

Solution: Activity doesn't have to be structured, just get moving more. Buy yourself an activity tracker and monitor your weekly steps. Aim to increase your steps by 3,000 steps per week and record your progress. You will be amazed how these small steps can make a huge difference. 

Or you can sign up for online classes at home: Les Mills on demand has a great range of classes, while Joe Wicks sessions are freely available.

4. 'I'm not motivated'

Solution: Set yourself a challenge. This may be to walk for 15 minutes non-stop every lunchtime or to exercise every day for one month. Be creative and challenge yourself.

Your body is capable of far more than you think. Don't forget your friends, though. Exercising with friends is a great way to make sure you maintain consistency with your hobbies.

5. 'I don't know when I'd go'

Solution: Exercising in the morning can be tough. If this is the only time you have spare, make sure you get a good night's sleep, have your kit ready and get into a routine. 

In these winter months, wrap up warm, get out and embrace the great outdoors. The natural light boosts vitamin D production and promotes a sense of balance in our lives. Evenings are probably the best option. Avoid late-night marking, pencil in a time and off you go. And there are always the weekends. 

It's hard to be active at the moment but it's also never been more important. Working our bodies builds an even more resilient immune system capable of fighting off illness.

Perhaps equally importantly, it helps to refresh and clarify the mind. Find an approach that works for you and stick with it. Go for it, challenge yourself and reap the benefits of a fitter, healthier you. 

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