Healthy New Year 3 – Exercise
Whilst it didn’t happen this year, all too often, somewhere between 13:00 end 14:00, Christmas dinner goes on the table, a whole morning of stress and panic having passed in the preparation. The exercise starved family has been sat opening gifts or reading or watching some Christmas telly and then, descend on the table like a pack of hungry badgers around a dairy cow (I don’t know if badgers actually eat cows, but the TB has to get from one to the other somehow and I sure as anything know that cows don’t eat badgers so…).
Said relatives then load up their plates with piles of protein and cairns of carbs, a gambit of gravy covers the delicately steamed shrubbery that has been added for good measure and then, the feast begins.
I don’t know how many hours later, but when stomachs are close to bursting, hernia stitches just about to split, the inexorable slide into evening sluggishness begins, normally, just as it starts to go dark outside. The evening is spent in much the same way as the morning, more reading, more gifts, more repeats (both on television and of a gastric nature), and if you manage to stay awake, a mixture of uncle Reg shouting at the queen on the TV, finishing the sherry and opening the christmas bottle of whisky and the first of the children’s broken presents – them already having been played with ‘too hard’. Exercise is still not on the radar.
At some time in the afternoon or evening, someone, normally the mother-in-law, has the bright idea that “we should go out for a walk to blow away the cobwebs”. Standard practice is for the suggestion to be welcomed with the same enthusiasm as an invitation to dinner with Robert Mugabe, but occasionally, one or two brave souls wrap up warm and have a brisk stroll to exercise the legs. Once home and awake again, these few russle up the cold meats and cheeses that accompany the mince pies, christmas cake and salad garnish that will be dinner, supper, tea or whatever you call it in your part of the world.
Breaking the habit
I may have overstated a bleak and stereotypical picture of Christmas without exercise, but it may have some familiar elements for you. The relief of breaking from work for the Christmas holiday and the subsequent weariness and over-eating can often lead you to drop all the things you normally do. The weekly gym visit goes, the regular swim slips out of the diary, walking seems so much less appealing than the comfortable embrace of a soft sofa and pacifying drone of the television.
Before you know it, two weeks have passed by and your waist has outgrown your trousers by two inches. Apparently, it takes two weeks to make a habit and two weeks to break one, but breaking the healthy habits always seems much easier than making them.
Making the habit
We are now two weeks into January. Maybe your exercise plan is going well or maybe you have not even started. Perhaps you have started and failed at the first hurdle, but its time to pick it up again. Lethargy and inactivity are not going to get you healthy, is it perhaps “time to cut down on your pork-life mate… Get some exercise” (Blur – Parklife)?
Of course, it is too easy to over-face yourself with ambitions exercise programmes, daily schedules that will tire you out just reading, but exercise doesn’t have to be hard, taxing or challenging and if you do it right, you won’t find that you have given up after the first week from exhaustion.
Build exercise into other things. For example, if you drive to work, park at the furthest space away from the office so you have a longer walk. Maybe when you get home, park further away from your house to make the journey longer.
Maybe you could choose to walk all the way to work or cycle to work once a week, walk to the tram or train instead of driving. Just try to build in more exercise into the daily routine.
Standing desks are all the rage these days and there are definitely some documented health benefits from the increase in energy expenditure, perhaps varying between a standing desk and sitting one is a possibility.
Climbing stairs is one of the best forms of exercise, so if you live in a bungalow…
I am cursed with forgetfulness and I regularly forget things and have to run up and down stairs a number of times to get the stuff I’ve forgotten. I would fully recommend developing short term memory loss to increase your level of daily exercise.
Either way, start slowly and simply, build a little more in here and there and eventually, you might feel like making some bigger inroads into something more taxing.
Personally, I’m doing a bit more standing rather than sitting, forgetting the tools I need while I’m renovating our house so spending more time travelling on stairs and beginning a regular 7-minute pilates-based little exercise programme.