It might not be summer yet, but now is a good time to get started on getting in shape for the warmer months – and feel great at the same time. Everybody knows that exercise, getting fit and staying fit is important. Movement is critical for good health and it’s not just for staying in shape but also for your emotional and mental health and well-being.
If you are feeling a bit low or down as winter draws to a close, it might be because throughout winter, as reduced exposure to sunlight disrupts the body’s natural rhythm, incidences of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) increase.
Besides feeling down and depressed, the symptoms of SAD can include increased appetite and weight gain. Regular exercise and staying fit are important tools to avoid SAD. It’s also a good idea to make sure some of your activity is outside in the fresh air, as the exposure to sunlight will boost your body’s vitamin D levels and balance your circadian cycle; an imbalance in either of these can contribute to SAD.
So here are seven tips to get active now:
1. Join a sports team to get your body moving – Basketball, netball, volleyball and other team sports can be played indoors or outdoors. At Sports Tasman, they offer a wide variety of team sports, events, and activities.
2. Join a group workout – It’s often easier and more motivating when you work out in a group. Most gyms have group classes. For example here in Richmond at the ASB Aquatic Center gym, they have a boot camp five mornings a week and an indoor spin class called RPM. There are many other gym classes to choose from so give it a try. You never know, you might even make a new friend at the class. Why not give them a call now and try it out for a week for free?
3. Water workouts – Using water as resistance is an effective way to burn kilojoules. Try aqua aerobics or aqua jogging if swimming isn’t your thing. A 2010 study by the University of Western Australia found that for women between the ages of 50-70 swimming, aqua aerobics or aqua jogging is ideal for fitness and weight control. It is also gentler on ageing joints and is suitable for all ages.
4. Take a walk – this might sound too simple but a brisk early morning walk in the beautiful outdoors is the perfect antidote not just to the winter blues – it gives you a ‘pick me up’ at any time of year and will leave you feeling energized and invigorated for the rest of the day. Or go for a walk at lunchtime or after work. – try parking your car a couple of kilometres from work and walking the last bit. On weekends, walking is a great social or family activity . I can also highly recommend a game of laser-tag in Tahuna, Nelson that is a lot of fun for the whole family and gets you moving.
5. Try something new – It’s been well known that seeking out new experiences can be very beneficial for us. Adventure teaches us to be in the here and now and to savour moments of wonder and simple joy. This blog post by Annabel Candy tells how she tries out 52 new exercises every week for 52 weeks. How about Zumba, Nordic walking, Nia, Tai chi or Yoga?
6. Find motivational at-home fitness. Aerobic videos might be so 80’s and might remind you of Jane Fonda, but you can swap the leg-warmers for 21st-century fitness. You might find a fitness app, a Wii fit game, a Fitbit watch, a great YouTube video or an exercise class online. I can highly recommend the Canadian website Do Yoga with me for free yoga tutorials from beginners to the more experienced yoga students.
7. Plan ahead and have a clear goal. It will help you focus on what you want to achieve. Do you want to maintain your weight and current level of fitness? Or do you want to increase your fitness level and shed kilos? Or do you want to improve your strength? It’s thought that achieving a goal produces dopamine in the brain, which is one of the chemicals responsible for happiness. Behavioural research journal ‘Psychology today’ says those who have goals to guide them, achieve more than those who don’t, and the goals also proved more focus and commitment. Why not get out your journal, your diary or a piece of paper now and make a plan?
If thinking about slipping back into your swimsuit isn’t enough motivation for you to start moving now, remember that maintaining moderate activity levels and a healthy diet now will be easier than trying to burn it off and lose the extra weight three months from now. Exercise also helps to combat sinus problems and it boosts your immunity to stay well this spring. The human body was designed to move. It is no wonder that people look and feel their best when they are eating and exercising on a routine basis.
Have fun, be healthy and feel good!