We all appreciate the benefits of regular exercise for our bodies. Staying fit supports your body image, organ health, posture, and more. However, the rewards are not limited to physical wellness and can have a telling influence on your mental health too.
Given our increased understanding of mental health, this is a massive incentive to invest in a better fitness strategy. Here are 10 simple steps to ensure that fitness feeds the mind.
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1| Be Geared Towards Results
All exercises will release endorphins and dopamine. However, there’s no greater sense of satisfaction than hitting your goals. Working with experts like Conte Health & Fitness to set defined objectives and milestones is key. When workouts are tailored towards them, the momentum gained with each success will work wonders. Aside from boosting your confidence in relation to workouts, it should inspire you in other areas.
2| Focus On Fun
Exercise can be a great way to reduce your stress levels. Those benefits are greatly increased when you actually enjoy the workouts. They can become the thing you look forward to during a tough day of work. Whether it’s playing team sports or working on the gym actions you enjoy most doesn’t matter. When getting fit no longer feels like a chore you’ll be far more likely to keep up the good work too.
3| Add Social Aspects
Getting fit is a self-centered and personal task. However, surrounding yourself with the right people can enhance your relationship with exercise. As well as personal trainers, you should look to form new friendships and try working out with friends. Trading a midweek trip to the pub for a workout class, for example, will boost your mindset. Better still, it will make you feel less guilty about the weekend drinking sessions.
4| Include Bucket List Items
We all have a bucket list of things we’d like to achieve in our lives. Most of us include something fitness-related. Whether it’s running the London Marathon, completing a mini-triathlon, or winning the local netball league doesn’t matter. The aspirations will provide a huge source of motivation and can be the driving force behind your workouts. The emotional rewards of getting it right will stay with you forever.
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5| Use It To Build A Schedule
If regular exercise is going to play a truly positive role in all aspects of your life, it needs to be integrated into your schedule. Other commitments cannot be ignored. However, if you leave fitness as an afterthought, you will continue to neglect it and skip sessions. Make sure that your daily and weekly schedules have dedicated times for fitness and you won’t go wrong.
6| Focus On Your Comfort
While the idea of setting goals is a priority, you should not forget that the purpose of getting fit is to boost your quality of life. Therefore, you should always keep a close eye on personal comfort levels. Exercise can actively help you get a better quality of sleep. When supported by the right recovery tips to fight muscle fatigue, you will feel better in daily life. In turn, your mind will remain in a better place at all times.
7| Make Nutrition Exciting
If you are planning to exercise more, it’s likely that nutrition will be on your list of priorities too. It’s important to eat healthily and enjoy balance. However, the great news about the increased activity is that your daily calorie limit will increase too. So, you’ll be able to enjoy a few extra traits. When you use online recipes like BBC Good Food, you can enjoy beautiful meals and tasty treats without any guilt.
8| Use Fitness To Help Others
Are you conscious of living an eco-friendly life? Or maybe you want to support communities that aren’t as fortunate as yours? You can use fitness to make this happen. One option is to raise money for charity when completing your bike ride or half marathon. Alternatively, cycling to work will reduce your carbon footprint compared to driving. The emotional rewards gained from supporting others are huge.
9| Take Time To Reflect On Progress
The ambition to keep improving is a wonderful thing. Nonetheless, if you always focus on the fact that you are not quite where you want to be, confidence may fall. So, taking time to reflect on your progress and how far you’ve come can be a pivotal step to gaining a better relationship with fitness. Just be sure to avoid resting on your laurels or thinking that the job is complete. Otherwise, sustainability won’t follow.
10| Celebrate With Treats
As mentioned, your improved fitness routines should be linked to achieving a better quality of life. With this in mind, it’s vital that you learn to actually let yourself enjoy the improved body and mindset. New clothes that show off your new and improved physique are a good option. Days out, homely products, healthy snacks, and a host of additional items can be used too. They will all highlight the fact that exercise makes your life better. Perfect.
The coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many areas of many of our lives. From having to work from home to homeschooling kids, not being able to see friends and family and not being able to engage with the social activities you usually would. When it comes down to it, we’ve all had to experience changes. One area that is impacting many in a way that’s particularly detrimental to overall health? Gyms, fitness classes, and sports clubs closing. For many months, a lot of us found ourselves only being able to walk, jog, run, or (if you have a bike) cycle in the local area. But as vaccines are being rolled out and life appears to be returning to normal, many gyms, fitness classes, sports clubs, and other fitness facilities are opening back up. So what should you do to ease yourself back into your fitness regime? Here are some tips that should help you along the way!
Giving Your Body the Right Fuel
When we think of exercise, we tend to automatically think of the actual activity. But before we get to that, it’s important to make sure that you’re fuelling your body properly for whatever exercise you’re planning on carrying out. Generally speaking, this means making sure that you have the right fuel through food, as well as ensuring that you are hydrated. Take a look at your diet and ensure that you’re consuming the right amount of calories for the amount of exercise you’re carrying out. Ensure you’re getting your five a day. Make sure that you’re getting sufficient protein. You may even want to try some cheap pre-workouts to give you a pre-workout energy boost.
Deciding What You Want to Do
Some of us can’t wait for the gym to reopen. This provides us with a climate-controlled, dry space where we can access all sorts of machines and equipment that will help us along our fitness journey. But it’s important to remember that gyms aren’t your only option. Perhaps the lockdown has given you time to consider some things you’d like to do and try out when they open back up. Some good ideas include:
The list, of course, goes on. But this should highlight that not all exercise has to be conventional and that there are many options out there for you to take into consideration and even try out yourself!
Stick With it
After a year and a half of being relatively sedentary, getting back to fitness can feel draining and hard. You may have aches when you first get back to it. But make sure to power on! In the end, your efforts will be more than worth it.
Of course, getting back into a regime will be different for everyone, as different things work for different people. But hopefully, some of the above advice should help you on your way and encourage you to reach your recommended one hundred and fifty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week!
From even before I had kids I knew several key points that would become the cornerstones of my parental approach. I feel very passionate about my kids seeing themselves as unique (like most parents) but in that uniqueness I wanted them to understand what it was like to develop individual skills and interests before engaging in the big wide world of pee-wee sports. We chose to skip the pee-wee games and guide our kids towards self-confidence using self-discovery and independent activity development. That meant family fitness activities. I know this is not for everyone, but for us-our kids getting down and dirty means playing in the mud, dancing in the rain, and walking in our woods searching for deer tracks and turkey feathers. I believe whole heartily that this is the foundation of childhood and developing into an independent-thinking adult. Yes, that’s right, family fitness is a foundation for our kids.
And within those independent activities, I wanted to be able to spend as much time with them as possible because there will come a day that they don’t think I’m top dog and will want to join the other team. But from the start, the team we wanted them to know they are on first is team “Krebs”.
Fitness is essential to me, and family fitness is even more important. The idea of keeping my kids active might not be what you are thinking because my suggestions won’t reference tee-ball, soccer, or dance. My suggestions are practical. They are beneficial, hopefully, to celebrate the little things because the little things are the foundation for your child’s future and who they will become as an adult and maybe one day as a parent.
Every movement matters.
In our house movement is super important. Now that my kids are school-aged, I recognize the extended periods of sitting and studying mean we need to prioritize movement once school activities are complete! I try to have them soak up every hour of daylight outside possible: jumping on the trampoline, climbing on the playset, chasing chickens, riding bikes, and making up games. And as easy as it is to send the kids outside, when you make an effort to go out with them they are not only more likely to explore, but it will make an impression that parents play too. I want to encourage you that if you tend to be a “go play outside parent” to set a timer for 20 minutes and go play with them, and then see what happens. I bet you that 20 minutes will quickly turn into an hour, because in the grand scheme of things- dinner can wait.
Family fitness walks.
Those in town who know me will vouch to say that they have seen me with my red stroller, two dogs, and two kids on bikes all over town. I need my movement, and because I work from home means I’m with my kids almost 24/7, so where I go, they go. And this has its perks. I used to fight for my personal time (I still get it but in other ways), but then I realized that the message I would be sending to my kids was exercise and fitness for adults is always separate. And after ten years of following this philosophy, I can honestly say it has paid off. I have gotten so much out of our walks together and I know I am planting the seed for years to come; plus, my kids love coming, they love my presence and I theirs. I use this time to talk to them about health, staying active as well as singing and playing eye spy. This is one of my most cherished non-winter experiences.
Family chores can be fun.
We have a very large backyard and woods and with all the tree cover a light breeze will drop tree limbs and black walnuts in an instant. My husband and I are not able to pick up this all ourselves and if we did we’d have no time for anything else. Staying active is super important to me and my family, but learning life skills is too. I know that when my kids become adults the impressions I set on them as kids will heavily impact the choices and decisions they make in their adult years. Picking up sticks is always a family affair, and I have to be honest they don’t always love it, but the older they get they realize: it’s not going to change anytime soon. Being outside in the warm sun and fresh air we race to fill our buckets first, who can pull the most roots, who gets the most walnuts and we often celebrate with lemonade and lunch outside afterward! We can easily spend two to three hours together (and don’t get me wrong there can be a fair share of complaining, but that is also part of the process) and after my husband always thanks them and asks them to look out and see what a great job they did. Seeing my kids notice their hard work and efforts and see them as they receive positive praise for helping in the household is a huge bonus too.
Encourage your kids to get dirty.
As parents we often let the end result cloud our willingness to let our kids run free. Stains on their pants, the time needed to then bathe, the worry of if they will get hurt, and the age-old excuse of not enough time. But I have to be honest, there is nothing more liberating than getting dirty with your kids. Sliding down the dirt mound outback with them. running barefoot in the rain, building sandcastles and mud pies at their side. When my husband and I get down and dirty with them, I get to see their eyes light up, not because of the dirt (although that is a big factor) but because we are dirty with them. I can feel the connection between us and our kids grow stronger and for me, it’s liberating as an adult to give myself permission to be a kid again and not try to be perfect all the time. When we get dirty we are reminded that life is messy. The mess is part of the experience.
Now these might not be wild and crazy ways to have fun, but they are free, fun and family orientated. When we instill in our kids that fitness, health, and fun cost money and require fancy equipment or continuous social engagements, we are limiting them in their own self-discovery process and creative development. Plus the time we get with our kids when they are young and we are the greatest thing since sliced bread is limited and I refuse to limit that even more.
Now go out and enjoy some family fitness!
Stress can be overwhelming and even debilitating. It can cause headaches, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. Obviously, we all know that stress isn’t good for us physically or mentally. So, how do we banish stress in our every day lives?
As a yoga teacher, I encourage others to live a life where they can stay grounded, focused, balanced, and content. Yoga has helped me a great deal with handling stress and the side effects of stress. It helps to relieve tension by keeping me focused on my breath rather than all the thoughts racing through my heads.
Whether you are at home, work, or somewhere in between, yoga is a great way to find stress relief. So, to help you on your journey of finding ways to banish stress, here are three of my favorite yoga poses.
3 Poses to Banish Stress Instantly
This pose is such a surrender for me. When I go here, I instantly let go. As I work to widen my knees slowly, I feel relief to feel such space (even if it doesn’t look like it). The freedom of my body letting go into the safety of the floor for a few minutes is all I need to feel a bit more like myself.
Legs Up With Support Pose
Legs Up With Support Pose
This pose is a go-to to help relieve the physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of stress. The feeling of my sacrum flat to the hard floor and my spine realigning without the burden of gravity is genuinely liberating. This pose allows me to let go. I totally give in to the fact that, at that moment, I am only human and not superwoman. What often starts as just a minute on my mat quickly ends up as ten, and trust me, you won’t be complaining.
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
This pose is often used in yoga therapy to help manage depression. It is also known to soothe headache and anxiety and reduce fatigue. The feeling of bending forward eases the mind. My warm breath against my thighs brings me full circle to the simplicity that I am okay the way I am.
Be gentle to yourself so that life can be gentle back to you. Never force yourself into a forward bend, especially when sitting on the floor. With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly, with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. If you are new to this pose, it helps to hold a strap around the feel. If you are incredibly tight, place a rolled-up blanket under your knees for added support. The more you relax in this pose, the more naturally your body will open up.
You Are Worth It
Making things drawn out and complicated only stresses us out more. Don’t overthink it. Sometimes you don’t have the time or the mental discipline to hop onto your mat, and that is okay. I get it. However, what I have discovered is that if you do make the time for yourself, you will see how yoga can help you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You are worth it and you owe it to yourself to make time for you.
And if you want to get professional, inspiring, functionally-safe classes all in the comfort and privacy of your own home. You must check out my online studio. No travel, no hassle, no sitters, and no fuss. This is not your typical yoga or fitness studio–it’s a fresh approach that I know you will enjoy.
If you are experiencing stress right now, here are some other helpful resources:
Meditations for Stress Relief
Mindful Ways to Reduce Stress
Navigating Stress In Life
It’s almost the New Year! Time to get up off that chair and get your booty moving again. No more excuses – it’s time to build a better booty!
You can feel the difference with just one quick move. Your New Year’s resolution to exercise more does not have to include extreme, super-quick jumpy moves or flailing body parts. The key to effective exercise is awareness. In order to cultivate awareness, one has to start to move and feel at the same time.
Are you an active person who loves to play? This is a great move to help improve activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and many other activities that require real lower-body stability and strength. This move is both challenging and mindfully controlled; speed will not win here.
Brush up on your pelvic floor and deep-core awareness (pelvic-core). This zone is the key to all exercise and all movement.
To give you a very short tutorial: While working on a deep pelvic floor contraction and deep transversus (our deepest torso/core muscle), imagine you have to go to the bathroom and you’re holding it in. At the same time, coughing. Feel your entire core contract as you stay contracted in the pelvic floor.
Build a Better Booty and Backside
Clamp a mini exercise ball or weighted ball tightly between the calf hamstring on one side.
Keeping a neutral pelvis (front hip bones are parallel with the wall you are facing), slowly hinge into yourself.
Bend the knees slightly to sink down into a Chair Pose on one foot. Use a hand against a wall to keep your balance, if needed. Align the knees to meet, and face the hips and torso to square yourself forward. Try using your hands at the top of your pelvis to see if you are level or not.
Inhale in Chair Pose and as you exhale, contract your pelvic-core, raise the ball leg forward while lifting the opposite arm up. Be mindful when you lift the leg forward to go only as high as you can without collapsing your torso or tucking your tailbone forward.
As you exhale, work to feel the base leg’s gluteus maximus contract as well. It’s important that the pelvic floor contract first and then the glutes, or all you are doing is death-squeezing the gluteus maximus.
Focus on lifting directly upward through the crown of the head. With a lack of gluteus stability and pelvic floor and inner core support, you will notice that you want to lean back.
Inhale and return back to a one-legged Chair Pose, working to bring the legs parallel with each other and work to keep the floating foot flexed.
Continue to move mindfully and slowly. There is no need to speed through this movement. When you do, the core muscles can easily be overlooked.
Try using a mini ball to start: focus on stability first and then increase to a weighted ball of 2 to 8 pounds.
Repeat this series up to 10 times on each side and then go back to the weaker side and revisit it for another possible 10 rounds. Working a 2-to-1 ratio allows the weaker tissues and side to catch up to the more dominant side. You can find more exercises to work these areas as a member of my Mindful Movement Online Studio – only $9.99/month.
Looking for More Pose Breakdowns? Check Out These Articles!
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