My older sister is a self-confessed exercise-phobe! Not only does she absolutely hate it, she also admits that she has no idea where to start or what to do when it comes to exercise. At the age of 39 (she will kill me for putting her age) she has only just purchased her first proper pair of trainers because until now she has never had any use for them. It's not that she doesn't do any exercise at all. Every now and then, when the exercise guilt takes over, she will whip out the Davina DVD and for about 2 weeks will exercise regularly out of the comfort of her living room and that is great. She still hates every second of it, but it works in subsiding the guilt and probably more importantly for her, it stops me nagging at her to become more active.
The reason it never sticks and become a lifestyle for her, is that she just hasn't found a workout that she loves and so will keep on trying new exercise DVD's like a serial dater trying to find true love.
In the UK, the recommended guidelines for women in relation to physical activity are as follows:
• at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and.
• strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
For most people they only see the words 'aerobic activity' and either think the dreaded treadmill or an old school aerobics class. If you're not an exercise fan, or into physical fitness, it is hard to relate these guidelines into an actual activity. The good news is that those 30 minutes don't need to happen all at the same time and can be made up of a variety of different activities.
If you asked my sister, and many other exercise-phobes like her if they met this weekly recommendation, they would probably say no and genuinely believe that they came nowhere near to the minimum.
However, what they are not necessarily taking into consideration, is that not all exercise sessions have to be those planned/structured classes, a workout DVD or even have to be performed wearing the latest monochrome lycra workout gear and Nike trainers.
As a single parent who doesn't drive (another reason for my constant nagging), my sister actually does a huge amount of what we like to call "accidental exercise" every single day. Without realising it, she is going about her regular day, doing the physical job of two parents and not realising that in doing so, she is actually exercising!
These "accidental exercises" throughout the day can quite easily add up to the daily recommendation of 30 minutes moderate aerobic activity. This is really taking "mum multi tasking" to a whole new level!
Accidental exercise can be a whole range of everyday activities that get the body moving, increases our heart rate and gets our bodies pushing themselves to complete daily tasks such as:
• Walking to work
• Cutting the lawn
• Creosoting the fences/decking
• Taking the stairs
We all know that there are so many great reasons that we all should be exercising more and doing it more often. However, making exercise a habit does take time and you need the right mindset to be able to make this an actual lifestyle change and not just a short term fad.
Research shows that we are much more likely to stick to an exercise regime that is fun and makes us feel good. No amount of willpower is going to keep us going long term with a workout that we hate. It's a bit like the cabbage soup diet that was rife in the 90's. Everyone knew they would lose a stone in a week, however, no one enjoyed doing it and so after the first week, everyone gave up.
No matter how many people tell you that something is good for you, will make you lose weight, will improve your life, will make you millions etc. If you don't enjoy it then you are less likely to keep it up.
So, let's take small realistic steps and start by celebrating all the Accidental Exercise that you have suddenly realised you are doing. Give yourself a pat on the back because you are actually working towards and in some instances meeting those weekly activity recommendations.
Finally, follow our Find your Fit blog where we will be sending our team to try out a whole range of fun, weird, outrageous, different exercise activities and reviewing them for our fans. You never know, you might actually fall in love with one of them!