Spring is in full swing, and some of us are feeling the residual effects of the winter doldrums. Blasted through the media is the idea that fitness and physical activity help to break us out of our hibernation, but it’s hard to know where to begin. Especially as we continue through year two of worldwide quarantine. In an effort to help sort out all of the propaganda and confusion, here are 10 simple ways to bring fitness and health back into your daily routine.
MOVE YOUR BODY DAILY
As quarantine has proven, moving your body daily is a bit of a feat, especially during the winter when being outside hurts. For those of us trapped in small apartments, and those of us who dislike the cold, there are still some simple ways to get your blood moving and your heart rate up. Stretching for a few minutes in the morning and before bed is a great way to increase flexibility and decrease aches and pains. If you find yourself stuck at your desk all day, set a timer for every hour or two, and when it goes off, stretch for 5-10 minutes. Your joints will thank you later!
This is such a small thing, but increasingly important due to the lessened gym usage social distancing has caused. If you are someone who thrives on accountability, finding a friend to work out with can prove to be a great help. Make a spreadsheet with checkboxes, link each days’ video/videos, and keep each other accountable! But remember, there’s no shame if you have to skip a day. Fitness should be about keeping yourself healthy–especially in your mind.
CONSISTENCY OVER INTENSITY
Routines are immensely important for many of us. If we don’t have our cup of coffee in the morning, well, let’s just say what will happen won’t be good. The same goes for fitness. It’s easier to continue a routine if it is an attainable goal. Thus, instead of starting off expecting two-hour workouts every day from yourself, schedule five minutes a day. Start small, with attainable goals, and as your strength and stamina grow, your drive to continue the routine will as well.
WORK OUT HOW YOU WANT TO
This tip belongs on a billboard. Or a hundred billboards. There is no one-size-fits-all for working out. Some of us love running, and some of us see it as torture. Some of us love weight training, and some of us prefer yoga. There is no right or wrong answer, only what you enjoy doing. If running like Phoebe Buffay in Friends is your thing, do it. If doing dance workouts is your thing, do it. You will get so much more enjoyment, and want to work out more if you love the moves your body will do.
In America, according to the Boston Medical Center, diet culture is roughly a $33 billion dollar a year industry. Let’s repeat that. Americans spend $33 billion dollars a year on diets. There’s always a new size or shape to be, a new cleanse, or diet fad to keep us striving towards new purchases in the diet industry. This has also led to 9% of Americans having eating disorders in their lifetime, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).
It is information such as this that shows that a healthy relationship with food is increasingly important. In terms of physical fitness, and mental fitness, food holds deep importance. Understanding moderation, types of foods, and being gentle with our bodies can help aid our mental and physical health–without dishing more money out to the billion-dollar dieting industry.
FEELINGS VS. FLAVORS
A great way to be more mindful of how you eat is to think about how a food makes you feel vs. how it tastes. If Doritos taste oh so good, but give you a stomach ache, remind yourself of that feeling next time you crave it. If eating vegetable stir fry gives you energy and you feel pretty good after your meal, remind yourself of that next time you crave it. But it’s important to remember that having a few Doritos is okay, just learn your level of moderation so your stomach doesn’t end up hurting too bad.
As humans, we are quite good at finding the path of least resistance. If eating more fruits and vegetables instead of prepackaged snack food is something you’re striving for but you never end up eating them, simply prepare them ahead of time. Wash and slice your cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, and melon as soon as you get home from the store for easy snack-ability.
For an extra challenge, don’t keep prepackaged snack food at home, it’s a lot harder to go to the store and buy your favorite cheesy snack than grab it from the cupboard–which means you will be less likely to consume it.
UNDERSTANDING MENTAL FITNESS
Fitness is a greater topic than physical health, so remember to pay attention to your mental health as well. A great way to do this, especially for those of us who work from home or don’t have a definitive home and work barrier, is to make a point to value our days off. Drink your morning coffee a bit slower, take a slightly longer shower, don’t think about that meeting on Monday! Taking time to let your mind fully rest, and fully pull away from your work responsibilities is an excellent way to take care of your mind.
SLEEP IS KEY!
An excellent way to make sure your mental fitness is in line is to have a healthy relationship with your sleep schedule. For those of us with insomnia or other sleep difficulties, this can prove to be very difficult but don’t beat yourself up about it. A few ways to aid your sleep patterns include keeping a notepad by your bed to jot down any thoughts or worries keeping you awake and have a nighttime routine that gets your body and mind ready to drift off to dreamland. Pro-tip: get a cheap alarm clock for your bedroom, and sleep with your phone in a different room. No more midnight Facebook sessions here!
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Drawing is hard to do without a pencil, and calligraphy is hard to do without a calligraphy pen. Thus, in the same way, working out, or moving your body is hard to do without the correct materials. For you, this could be tennis shoes and shorts, or a yoga mat and weights. Set yourself up with success by investing in the things you need to be successful. A great, inexpensive way to do this is to check out thrift stores for second-hand workout materials.