If there is one recurring theme in my blog posts over the years, it is the importance of movement. And if there is one thing the Covid years has challenged, for many people, it is movement. Through the first lockdown, we were encouraged to get outside and exercise once per day. It was one of the few freedoms we retained as we set out into the unknown with no idea how long it would last or the forward effect on everyone’s lives. Some embraced this precious ‘exercise’ time, and many found a new appreciation for the great outdoors on their doorsteps and breathing in the fresh air. Others sat indoors and slowly allowed lethargy to transform the outside world into an alien, even threatening, place.
These extremes manifest in other ways across the population. For example, for some, the idea of returning to the office is now a frightening thought, even though they had been following the same nine-to-five commute/routine for twenty years before the pandemic began. There are still challenges ahead.
In my experience, movement is habitual. If you regularly walk, the idea of walking further is not a big deal. If you visit the gym twice a week, moving up to three days is merely a case of managing your calendar. And when you live on the second floor of an apartment with a broken lift, walking up other stairs is never going to cause you a problem. But ask people who don’t walk to go with you a mile, someone who doesn’t exercise regularly to come to the gym or a ground floor dweller to hit three flights of stairs, and you are in for an excuse.
Recreate those good habits by starting small
As we ease back into whatever form normal eventually becomes, let’s start small and get moving. Moving around is the best thing you can do for your body, but also the worst. It is so easy to overdo physical activity and cause yourself an injury, and it happens to the old and young, the physically fit and those who are less prepared or able. So my advice is always to start small and work your way to doing more. And the benefit of this simple philosophy is that you feel fantastic for having moved at all. And as small moves gather momentum, habit becomes habitual, and health becomes healthy.
Movement changes everything
It sounds simple, but movement really does change everything. Even the shortest of walks will release endorphins and other natural, mood-enhancing chemicals around your body. This has even been shown to sustain and even heal cognitive functionality in the brain. Every time you move a muscle, you start to release physical tension within its fibres and, by adding a little resistance to the movement, you strengthen that muscle. By exerting yourself, you stimulate and increase the efficiency and health of almost every part of your body (lungs, heart, joints, etc), making you feel happier and stronger.
And the more you get up and move around, little by little (do not try too much at once), the more you will be able to move and maintain more vital health to live a happier life.
Move the fear to the rear
Mental health is a bigger issue than ever before in our world, and we are far more aware of its widespread effects and consequences. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I know that physical fitness and mental health are related. And I also believe that physical health is an easier thing to fix. So why not do your head and your heart, your mind and your muscles, and your life and your lungs a favour today and move a little more.
Don’t do too much. Find your level and just get moving. Before you know it, you’ll be better than before this whole unwelcome episode of our lives ever began.