It’s currently Mental Health Awareness Week, and one thing that we’re really keen to shout about this year is the hugely positive impact that being more active can have on your health – both mental and physical.
Research shows that even taking small steps to be more active can have a hugely significant impact on mental health.
We understand that the idea of starting to exercise can be a little daunting, however, so here are some of our top tips to help you if you want to get started and create a new, more active routine.
1. Start slowly
If you’ve not exercised for a while, it’s really important to avoid over-stretching yourself at first. If you try to do too much too soon, you’re at risk of injuring yourself, and are also likely to damage your motivation – meaning ultimately, you’ll give up.
By starting small, and building up your activity over a period of time, you can start to enjoy the benefits of a more active lifestyle straight away, while also ensuring that you stick with it for the long haul.
2. Find something you enjoy
Too many people make the mistake of forcing themselves to do something they hate. If the idea of running for hours on a treadmill gives you cold sweats, don’t do it!
If you think you don’t like exercise, then chances are you’ve just not found the right activity.
Come and talk to the team at Iffley Road if you’d like some advice on activities to try, some of which you might not have thought of before.
3. Find the right environment for you
A lot of people are self conscious about exercising, especially at first. By joining a class, or finding a supportive environment to exercise in, you might find that you are able to work out more confidently. Getting active as part of a group means you can keep each other motivated too, and make some new friends!
Take a look at our class timetable and see if any of them appeal. If you want to jog more, but don’t like running through the busy city, then give running on our Iffley Road track a go. You can jog in peace at your own pace, with only other runners for company.
Students and staff can sign up for a free membership to use the track, so there is nothing to lose!
4. Stick with it
Make a commitment to stick with your chosen activity for at least a month, and preferably two. If you’re not enjoying it at that point, then you can stop and try something else guilt-free.
Even the most ardent anti-runners often find that they suddenly start to love it once their general fitness level has improved a little. This can take a few weeks though, so staying strong, and toughing it out during the early weeks is vital.
It also takes a few weeks to form a new habit, so even if you are tempted to give up, it’s well worth doing your best to carry on.
5. Listen to your body
When you first start being more active, it’s important to listen to your body, and not try to push yourself too far.
If you’re aching, take a rest, or try a different activity that uses different muscles and joints. Many people find swimming a good alternative way to exercise, and enjoy a fun, full body workout.
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember, every time you get active you’re taking a step in the right direction, to improving your mental and physical wellbeing.
So give yourself a break and be proud of being more active!