After a long day at work, the lure of vegging out in front of the TV can be irresistible. But if you make the effort to be active, you’ll reap the rewards mentally, emotionally and, of course, physically.
Matt, 37, is a doctor, working long shifts in Cambridgeshire. He says: “I meet a lot of people day in and day out who are unwell because of the lifestyle choices they have made.”
You’d think firsthand experience of poor lifestyle choices and lack of exercise would propel Matt into activity but, with admirable honesty, he admits: “I see myself making those lifestyle choices.
“I work long shifts and crumple in a heap at the end of the day. At the end of a 12, 14 or 16 hour day, the last thing I want to do is put my shorts on and go and sweat. I just get through the door and veg out.“
But Matt has a garage full of weight training equipment gathering dust. He resolves: “I’ve got to stop finding excuses and get active.”
Matt’s experience is all too familiar as we juggle competing demands of home life and work life, while our energy feels sapped and we worry about staying in shape.
In this video, performance psychologist Tom Bates says: “We can all relate to a busy work lifestyle. I think a lot of it is about understanding ourselves - the emotional states that we create for ourselves define performance.”
Tom shares his top tips to carving out exercise time and getting #backontrack in this video.
1. Feed yourself with positive thoughts.
2. Be aware of your attitude and mental barriers and thoughts about exercise and change them. You’re in control. If you think you can - or you think you can’t - you’ll be right.
3. Connect to your reason why. Remind yourself on a daily basis why being fit is important to you.
4. Start simple. Break the goal into smaller manageable steps, like a 20-minute walk in the park.
5. Find an exercise partner. Share the same experiences and challenges.
“This is not about doing it alone,” adds the performance psychologist. “There are other people out there in your situation, find them. They have empathy, they know your challenges, they’re in a similar situation to you. When we share those experiences, we find the strength and encouragement from each other to continue and improve.”
Tom also advises that we should remember our past achievements and use them to spur us on, even when we haven’t prioritised fitness for a while.
“Think back to your previous achievements and know how hard you worked to overcome the challenges that you were faced with then. You did it before, you can do it again,” he says.
“Remember the strength and conviction you have inside you. Focus on that. You never give up. When you set your mind to something, you achieve it. No matter what.”
Matt has managed to make time for weight training workouts in the morning before work - and he’s feeling buoyant. “I tend to notice the emotional gains from exercise first, which is feeling a bit more alert, a bit more awake, a bit more energetic,” he says.
“You forget when you’ve been out of practice, just how good you feel afterwards.”