Intention, Habit, Action!
Updated: Mar 20, 2021
We’ve all been through the ‘I’m going to wake up super early, do some yoga, run a 5K, drink a green smoothie and do this every single day’ phase and while we all know that exercise can boost our mood and improve our health, it can be tricky to get into a consistent exercise routine – especially if we haven’t exercised in a while or even after a long day.
And just as many a half-read book or half-watched movie show, it’s near impossible to see anything through if we don’t find it interesting enough. So, in honour of National Fitness Day (which was on the 23rd September), now is a great time to think of intentions and begin to create habits that will improve our overall wellbeing – even if it’s simply walking when taking a phone call as opposed to sitting down or doing some seat-friendly stretches at your desk. And what a better time to think about this, now that the days are getting shorter, the weather’s getting colder and we are all spending more time at home than we may usually!
1) Finding ‘your’ ideal type of movement
So many of us think we’re ‘not the exercise type’, but I think that’s just because we haven’t found our ‘thing.’ I struggle to stick to activities like running or high intensity interval training but since I started practising yoga and martial arts, fitness has become so much more fun and I always end up feeling healthier and more positive after doing either of these activities. So what’s your preferred way of keeping fit? Does it involve learning a new skill? Or is it simply just putting your favourite music on and having a dance?
2) Setting realistic Intentions
But research shows that it only takes 30 minutes of exercise a day – the amount of time it takes to watch a TV episode, cook a quick dinner or have a phone conversation – to start improving our overall wellbeing. Figuring out what time of day that will be and trying to stick to that same time might make things more attainable.
3) The fundamental ‘why’ - what does fitness do for the brain?
The focus on the benefits of exercise in mainstream media usually starts at the end of winter, with an aim to ‘shed that holiday weight.’ But aside from keeping us physically healthy, what does exercise do for cognitive function and mental health? Research by Hillman et al (2008) shows that higher fitness levels are linked with:
Improved executive function, which governs self-awareness, inhibition, non-verbal working memory, verbal working memory, emotional self-regulation,
Self-motivation, planning and problem solving
Enhanced spatial reasoning
Heightened response speed
Alleviated anxiety, depression and negative mood
With all that said, our bodies and our minds are different and we have different capabilities and hindrances. So maybe let’s start by setting our own, individual intentions, creating new habits and most importantly, having fun and being patient with ourselves. Happy moving!