When thinking about physical activity at the end of a busy day, what comes into your mind? Probably ‘tiredness’, ‘no time’, ‘tomorrow it’s another day’...well, you got the point. Yes, we can be quite exhausted in our daily busy life, and while wanting to progress and develop we’ll place our mind first and body second. After all, if sports is not your profession, it makes sense to prioritise this way.
I’m always fascinated by people who conduct complex researches, or senior executives that manage multimillion dollars projects, but when it comes to a few minutes of exercise a day, it’s the most challenging thing for them to follow. Somehow, for many of us, giving-up on our body is the easiest thing to do. Instead of helping our body to preserve itself while we’re getting older, we just accept the slow metabolism, hurting bones, and the slowing response time, and don’t try to make it any better. Funny enough, when we’re young and our body is more resilient, our body receives more activity as we are more active in different social frames, while when the body needs more attention when we grow older, we tend to minimise the physical activity.
But…studies show that physical activity, of any sort, helps us feel better, be more focused, and have more energies in our daily tasks. It’s funny to think about it, as we need to invest energies to receive new energies, but this is how it works. Now a disclaimer; I’m not an expert, not a fitness teacher, and didn’t study any official program at the university about this. I’m a simple person that knows how important it is for my mind and soul that my body will receive its daily activity. Therefore, I compiled five simple guidelines that are very easy to follow and help me personally to give back my body what it needs;
Start small (even very small) but give your very best at every session
Did you always think how to start to get moving? Easy. Can you walk 1 kilometre? Great, go outside and do so. No matter how fast or long you go, just go! But with one rule: give your very best at every exercise session. Meaning, if you’re tired and know that you cannot complete a 1km walk on that moment, just adjust to what your current energies offer you. Every step counts. Cliche? Yes, but very true!
Consistency, consistency, consistency
We need to understand that our body is an incredible machine. It can cure, revive, and improve by itself. The only thing we need to do is to give it a small push, and also be consistent with that. Because the body has wonderful self-learning capabilities we need to invest a bit to receive much more back. It’s the best return of investment ever created. For example; If you go for a run of 5km and manage to do it in 6 minutes per kilometre, you’ll only need to keep it consistent and go for another run of 5km once or twice a week without pushing too much - just keep the same pace. After a few weeks you’ll be able to experience that suddenly your ability to achieve a faster pace without putting any extra effort increased. Our body learns the routine between one exercise to another, become stronger, and can produce better performance. Keeping this in the back of our minds when we exercise, we slowly improve and are able to achieve new records.
Don’t compare or over-compete
Each one of us is unique. Sometimes we can perform better than others, and sometimes others can perform better than us - depending on the field of expertise. We cannot excel in everything and therefore we should define targets that we feel comfortable with. Also, we need to remember that everything is relative. It all comes down to “with which result I’ll be be happy with”. There is a big scale of being defined as the next Hussain Bolt, the 8 times Olympic gold-medalist in short-distances, and to officially be awarded as the “couch potato” of the year. Place yourself between these two and be happy with that spot. Therefore, you set the rules and standards. Embrace the small ‘wins’ along the way and even if you didn’t run a marathon below 3 hours till you reached the age of 35, you’re still doing great by giving your current very best.
In a world of innovation there is a new fitness method being invented everyday or a new tech-gym that is opened at the corner of the street. Keep in mind that simplicity is the name of the game. You don’t need crazy methods, expensive gym contracts, or manage complex agendas just to be able to go to a certain 'super-duper-zumba' lesson. The mantra if "I’ll pay - I’ll go" is no longer a relevant argument in our day and age, because it simply doesn’t work. In just wearing your sport shoes and jumping outside for a walk, a run, or body exercises you will be able to get the minimum that your body needs to be happy with. And remember; consistency, consistency, consistency.
Search for the right balance
Physical activity is great and important, but it’s only one element that we need to master to reach the state of focus, calmness, and fun we want to have in our life. ‘Physical Activity’ joins ‘Professional & Personal Development’, and a ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ (hence balanced nutrition, sufficient sleep, and ‘Taking it Easy’ approach). In case one of these is not in its place, no matter how fast you’ll run, you’ll still feel incomplete. In these cases a more holistic evaluation on what’s missing and which changes are required to get to the right balance could help. These can be change of priorities in your private life, re-evaluating the work you do for your career growth, or rethinking again what you eat through the day. And if you think about it, physical activity is one of the easiest and instant elements you can master and enjoy from. Challenges in your professional or personal life can be much more complex and difficult to alter.
Physical activity is not a luxury, but a necessity that our body needs. Keeping up a certain routine, simple or extensive, will assure that you’ll feel good to be able perform and produce great work. The connection between mind and body is inevitable, and while we think that we can put it aside as second priority, in the long run it will fail us. If we want to continue create, experience, live, and love life as long as possible, we should always think about our body, and make sure it can take us through the moments, weeks, months, and years to come in the best possible way.