As the summer approaches and lockdowns are gradually lifted, there’s more opportunity than ever to find the time, and a way, to get our weekly exercise in. Although with enough determination one probably could’ve found a way to exercise during the pandemic, it was often exceedingly difficult to do so, especially with frequent gym closures and other restrictions to exercise accessibility. As such, many of us had our routines disrupted, and those who wanted to get into exercising (in any form) likely had a very difficult time in doing so. Now that we’re somewhat “back to normal”, however, we can begin to get back to our routines, or start a new one. Even still, with the various priorities we face, be it a career, family, health issues, or all of the above, it can be difficult to find the time, or get motivated at all. Although there’s no universal standard, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. Weight and resistance training are also recommended at least twice a week. This may sound daunting, but it’s important to challenge yourself while going at your own pace- overexerting yourself leads to a bad experience, and a subsequent lack of motivation.
If you have health issues, it’s important to speak with your doctor beforehand- after all, better health is the goal, and you don’t want to sabotage yourself. Otherwise, try to find the best way to break down those 150 (or 75) minutes over the course of the week, and set goals you feel are genuinely attainable. Broken down evenly, that’s a little over 21 minutes of mild to moderate exercise per day, but setting a “rest” day helps break up the monotony. If you have trouble “getting in the zone”, it might be better to spend 40 minutes 4 times a week (yes, that’s 10 minutes over, feel free to end your last session at 30 minutes)- that way you can consolidate your exercise, so you don’t have to hype yourself up to “get in the zone” as much. Whatever you choose to do for that time is up to you, as long as you feel you’re exerting yourself. You can get creative with it too; jogging or walking can be boring for some of us, and there’s nothing wrong with substituting that with something else. If you have yard work to do that requires fairly substantial movement or exertion, that can absolutely count as your daily exercise. For resistance or weight training, you don’t need a gym- just your body. Push-ups are an excellent all-around upper body exercise; try to do as many as you can your first day (but know your limits- don’t push yourself too far).
After that, you can get a sense of your baseline; even if you can only do a few, if you consistently work at it for two or three days a week, you can progress quickly. Can’t do a single push-up? No problem, knee push-ups are equally valid, and eventually, you’ll be able to graduate to “regular” push-ups. These are just a few ideas, and the internet has a wealth of knowledge for more exercise options. Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Progress can be slow, but worthwhile. Know yourself and your limits. It can be tempting to sleep in before work, telling yourself “I’ll exercise after my shift”, even if you know in your heart of hearts that you’ll be far too tired then. Above all, take pride in your efforts, regardless of what your ability level is, with the knowledge you’re bettering your health, both mentally and physically.