Updated: Apr 16
When I chose my tagline ‘Breathe Well, Eat Well, Live Well, Move Well and Sleep Well’, there was a good reason I didn’t choose the word EXERCISE instead of MOVE. Whilst exercise plays a large part in the holistic process of being ‘well’, I actually prefer to use the word movement. Say the word exercise and people tend to immediately think of intense gym workouts or fitness classes, whereas movement is a more open approach to using your body and keeping it active.
In my last blog, I covered the negative impact of stress and while certain exercise has its’ place, if you are going to put yourself in a state of anxiety or stress at the very thought of going to the gym or a class, then it is likely to put you off going at all and negates the point of going. Sometimes a long walk or some gentle stretching can be more than enough if that is all you are up to. Beyond using it for the physical results and internal health, movement is also a powerful tool to connect your body and mind on a deeper level by offering meditative benefits.
I am not going to lie, I used to think stretching was a totally pointless exercise, plonked on the end of fitness classes to delay me being able to rush home for a glass of wine! When I trained as a fitness instructor, I learnt about the importance of stretching to prevent injury but honestly, I still found it the most boring part of the class to teach! Now, however, I am so in love with mindful movement and deeply restorative stretching, that my family are used to stepping over me as I lie in a blissed-out state on the floor and I added Yin Yoga to my list of qualifications so I could share my passion with others.
So how can you incorporate movement and exercise into your midlife, in a way that will make a huge difference to how you feel?
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TIPS:
1. FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE Most people fail when it comes to exercise routines because they don’t find something they love to do. Why would you stick at something if the thought of it didn’t get you excited?! There is normally something out there for everyone – Hiit, Rowing, Cycling, Zumba, Dance, Barre, Pole, Aerobics, Step, Pilates, Yoga, the list is endless – if you don’t want to go alone, teaming up with someone, such as a partner or a friend, can make a massive difference too.
2. TRACK YOUR CYCLE TO PLAN YOUR WORKOUTS This may sound crazy but if you start tracking your cycle properly, you will soon discover that at certain times of the month you have lots more energy than others. Generally speaking, you will have more vitality from the first day of your period, for around 2 weeks, so this is when I suggest you try new classes and do more intense workouts. For the last two weeks of your cycle, you may benefit from finding a yoga class, taking gentle walks and doing some restorative stretches at home instead.
3. INCLUDE SOME AEROBIC ACTIVITY Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds, protect your bones and reduces your risk of heart attack, strokes and cancer. If you don’t want to run, there are plenty of other options! Try brisk walking, cycling, swimming or even some gardening. If you are a beginner, start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase the intensity and duration.
4. YOGA Yes, here it is again! Yoga is known as an effective practice for mindfulness and stress reduction. But doing yoga is also very helpful for managing symptoms of menopause. During this transition, women are less likely to want to exercise as hormones fluctuate a lot. As a result, the last thing you may want when you have hot flushes, is to go and sweat at the gym. Yoga, on the other hand, is a practice that will not send your heart rate into overdrive. At the same time, it will tone your muscles and improve your breathing.
5. STRETCH OR FLOW FIRST THING The morning is often the last time of day most people want to plan any kind of extra movement. Whilst forcing yourself to run or workout is not always a wise or enjoyable choice when you are too tired or the mornings are dark and cold, there are ways you can awaken the body through natural movement. When you first wake up (after your 7 deep breaths from my earlier blog!!) get up, dangle your legs over the edge of the bed and follow this flow:
· Start by gently turning your head from side to side looking over your shoulders
· Reach your arms up tall above your head, clasp your hands together and lean from side to side gently
· Stand up, tuck your neck in and roll your head slowly down the front of your body, letting your hands drop to the floor. Pause at the bottom, swaying your hips side to side if it feels nice, then roll slowly back up, one vertebra at a time
· Next stand hip distance apart, bring your weight onto one leg and stretch the other leg out in front of you, pointing the toes. Flex the foot, bringing the toes to face towards you, then release, pointing the toes away from you. Continue for 30 secs, shake the foot and repeat on the other leg. You don’t need to spend long on these flows but building it into your routine can stimulate energy flow and make you feel more alive first thing in the morning.
“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional and mental states.”