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Feeling Sluggish? 5 ways to Get Moving and Improve Your Health and Happiness!

Feeling Sluggish? 5 ways to Get Moving and Improve Your Health and Happiness!

If we're honest, most of us are aware that we should be more active and some of us know what an amazing impact exercise can have on our health and happiness, but we still struggle to motivate ourselves to exercise regularly. Why is that, and how can we make that crucial change to start introducing small chunks of exercise into our busy lives? What is the secret to keeping going and how do you get started again after a break resulting from illness, the festive season, a holiday or a change of routine? Take a look below for some of our top tips and see if you can start to bring a little more activity into your daily routine.
Feeling Sluggish
1. Be honest with yourself

Most of us are much less active than we like to think we are. To change this isn’t as hard as it sounds; we just need to focus on some easy ways to incorporate a bit more movement into our daily routine.

To get started, it's really useful just to establish a baseline - visit and take their lifestyle quiz and fitness self-assessment to see how you score. This will give you a practical benchmark to get you started and will help you be honest about what you currently do and what activitities you can start to include in your daily life going forward.

The NHS exercise guidelines for an adult aged 19-65 are:

For heart and lung fitness

At least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week. In order to make this achievable you need to look at what that equates to per day – around 20 minutes of movement. This could be broken down into 2 x 10 minute walks in a day or maybe taking a 20 minute cycle ride to the shops and back. Breaking it down like this makes it far less daunting.

For Strength and Flexibility

You should be doing strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

The gym can really help here with resistance equipment to work all the major muscle groups. It is well worth getting a personal trainer to demonstrate how to use these machines. They aren’t complicated; you just need someone to show you what to do first. An activity like gardening, which involves lifting, stretching, bending, digging and sweeping, could also help strengthen your muscles and maintain flexibility.

Do what you love!
2. Do what you love!

If you enjoy a sport or exercise and it makes you smile - you are much more likely to stick to your new hobby. If you are stuck for inspiration, because frankly no exercise or sport really appeals that much, it’s a great idea to sweeten the experience by listening to your favourite music or exercising in an inspiring place. The Uk is blessed with thousands of public footpaths and most of us have amazing places to explore close by, including fields and parks, which we sometimes forget about.

Make a list of all the activities you think you might enjoy and then try to focus on a couple of them. Your initial list might include tennis, golf, running, cycling, badminton, netball, swimming, dance classes, hockey. Whittle this down and then do some research about activities available locally. For example, an interest in jogging may lead you to find out about an athletics club or a local organised park run.

3. Exercise with a friend

Research shows that you are much more likely to turn up and stick to an exercise routine if you do it with a friend. Think about someone you enjoy spending time with and who would also like to get moving! You will have someone to support, encourage and motivate you and it can add a bit of healthy competition. The best thing about exercising with a friend is that it is much more fun. If you have fun, you are much more likely to keep doing it!

You could play badminton or tennis, go for a brisk walk or jog, or even try a dance class together.

Exercise with a friend
4. Try using a pedometer

If you enjoy walking and haven’t exercised for a while, a 10 minute brisk walk twice a day will give you the 20 minutes of moderate activity you need. You can work your way up to an optimum level of 10,000 steps each day. A pedometer can really help motivate you to get up and get out walking! You don't need any special equipment - just some comfortable shoes or walking boots if the terrain's muddy and loose layers of clothing.

You don’t even need to invest in an expensive fitbit or jawbone device to go on your wrist – although these can be a great motivator. There are a number of free mobile phone apps that do the same thing. For example Pacer for the iPhone tracks not only your steps but pretty much all your daily activity. Check out the app store or Google Play for android phones by searching for ‘Pedometer’ and see which tracker will work best for you.

5. Set your goals and plan those all-important rewards

Start small and be realistic about your goals. You might decide, for instance, that you want to want to walk 3,000 steps each day. Once this becomes the norm, increase it by 300 steps until eventually you are walking 10,000 steps each day. Set a timeframe and plan a healthy reward for yourself. For example, if you manage to achieve 10,000 steps every day for 1 month, you could reward yourself with a new pair of walking shoes!

So there you have it… It is possible, with a little help from your friends, to incorporate just a bit more exercise each day into your routine. Contrary to what you might expect, rather than making you even more tired, exercising actually gives you more energy and zest for life. You will be amazed at the difference this makes and how quickly you will increase the amount that you do, as your body becomes used to being more active. Go on, take the first steps to a happier, healthier lifestyle and get those trainers on!

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