Well, it’s the start of a new decade! Many of you may be thinking of making changes, especially after the Christmas festivities, but remember, it doesn’t have to all start 1st January and be all or nothing.
As we get older, our bodies become a little less forgiving. When we are young we can sit awkwardly, jump higher and crawl out of bed with fewer aches and pains, so It can be disheartening to suddenly find we’re restricted or we have a problem when we’re waking. As we get older, our spines will naturally have wear and tear, our balance may get a little less stable and our muscle mass begins to decrease in a use it or lose it way. Although this can sound all like doom and gloom, it doesn’t have to be – everyone I see who is aging well is active!
If I recommend you go to a yoga, tai chi, pilates or dance class weekly, I know the majority of people I see will say they would love to but don’t have the time. Some people do attend classes and this is great – you get a hobby, meet people and stay healthy, however I know some people have already rammed a lot into their day. It is recommended adults get at least 2 1/2 hours moderate activity or 1 1/4 hours vigorous activity, and the benefits of activities such as yoga, dancing, bowls, tai chi are all being encouraged as forms of exercise along with some cardio. The suggestion is to try things you enjoy and which get you moving, however, this again can be hard to fit in.
And so I have the mantra, little and often
If you’re someone who wants to make changes but has limited time, then try little and often. Research is showing High Intensity Interval Training can be as effective as an hour in the gym, and many people find 5-10mins of yoga poses a couple of times a week can help to keep your flexibility while 5 minutes of daily meditating can help you keep the calm in a stressful situation. (If you have an existing health condition it’s a good idea to check with your health professional before embarking on strenuous exercise!)
And now I guess you’re thinking it’s easy for me to make these recommendations, that it’s easier said than done
Well, my clients know, I try to walk my talk. I have a physical job and to offer as many therapies as I do, I have to take care of my body. I commit to meditating at least 5 times a week, the gym twice a week and yoga twice a week. This is my absolute non-negotiable minimum to myself and, writing it, it sounds quite impressive. How do I find the time? Well, the reality is my meditation is sometimes only 3 minutes long – I can find 3 minutes even when 10minutes seem impossible. I will do 2-3 yoga sessions in a week and the app I use does 10minute sessions – ask me to do 20minutes and I won’t be finding the time for it. I keep the mat by my bed and literally stagger out of bed, unroll it and begin the session. I’ve learned that if I don’t, my body will soon tell me it has a problem with it and my back will start to ache. My gym sessions? They’re a minimum of 2 x 20minute sessions a week. Now, even for me, that is achievable despite the fact I need to drive there and back and possibly incorporate changing. Very often, I’ll spend half hour on the equipment, but if I’m not feeling the best, I’ll take it slower and get out as soon as I can. If I’m feeling good and have time I’ll also try to include some weights to help keep the muscle mass – on the days I do go to the gym, I’m usually there by 6am so it doesn’t impact on the rest of day.
Is it enough?
If I’m honest, probably not. But my aim is to look after my body, ensure it will work when I want it to and how I want it to. My activities are designed to help support my physical and emotional sides in the timescales I have and at the moment my body seems ok with it. I’d encourage that when you’re looking at your goals, don’t make them unattainable or unsustainable. You may find you don’t need to be committing an hour each week to achieve your aims – but even if you, don’t you think your body is worth it? I know that when I’m thinking about changes I don’t want to set myself up to fail and then feel guilt and shame about targets which were really just unrealistic for my lifestyle.
So, before you begin signing up to lots of January classes, think about what you want to achieve, what is manageable with your lifestyle and what is your bare minimum. Have a way which works for you – maybe a minimum and an ideal aim so you know you can aim for one with a safety net of another.
Make 2020 your year to shine!
Louise is an holistic therapist who owns Therapy Centre, BS14 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers aromatherapy, reflexology, holistic massage, baby massage, reiki and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family. For further information, visit her website louise-morgan.co.uk