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Are You Sabotaging Your Plan to Exercise More?

Are You Sabotaging Your Plan to Exercise More?

    You know exercise is good for you, right? But regular exercise is like pushing water uphill. You do it for a couple of days – and then try and forget about it, because it’s just too hard. Sounds familiar?

    People who exercise regularly swear by it. They enjoy it. They can’t stop talking about it. But how did they manage to build a habit that sticks? Wouldn’t you like to know a painless and easy way of getting into the exercise habit? Read on to find out.

    The reason we often fail when trying to implement a regular exercise routine is because we work against our instincts, instead of with them. What we are trying to do when we establish an exercise routine is do reverse a trend.

    Imagine that you are a train driver driving at high speed. How are you going to do that? Are you going to simply crash your gear into reverse? If you did, the train would derail, passengers would get hurt or killed, and you would end up with a catastrophe.

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    There is a better way.

    You could gently apply the brakes until the train is at a standstill, and then slowly start reversing the direction. Easy!

    The example is very clear, isn’t it? And yet we do the opposite when trying to start exercising. We try and run for a mile, or go to the gym for an hour, or play a game of tennis – and then wonder why we feel so stiff and sore next day. Then we try it again, but the body hates it – and then we stop. Again.

    As In her book “This year I will…”, Andy Ryan, an expert in collaborative thinking, spells out why such a gung-ho approach doesn’t work:

    Whenever we initiate change, even a positive one, we activate fear in our emotional brain….If the fear is big enough, the fight-or-flight response will go off and we’ll run from what we’re trying to do.

    We need a different approach. We need an approach that eases the body into exercise so gradually, so that we don’t trigger the flight response.

    How do we create change so gently that we don’t take fright?

    There is a very interesting Japanese philosophy called Kaizen which can help us do that. Kaizen  focuses on continuous but small change.

    Andy Ryan explains:

    The small steps in Kaizen don’t set off fight or flight, but rather keep us in the thinking brain, where we have access to our creativity and playfulness.

    Let’s take a look at how that could be applied to physical exercise. I’ll take running as an example. Could you run for 15 seconds? Most people can. With the philosophy of Kaizen, you could say that if can run for 15 seconds, you can learn to run for a minute – and even for an hour. How?

    Follow this simple running plan. Add 15 seconds each day.

    Day 1#  Run for 15 seconds
    Day 2#  Run for 30 seconds
    Day 3#  Run for 45 seconds
    And so on…

    It will seem ridiculously easy! Do this for a about forty days, and you’ll be running for 10 minutes. A month later, and you’ll be running for 20 minutes. By that time your running habit will be well established. But it will have happened naturally!

    You can apply the same principle to establishing any exercise. Whether it’s yoga, or swimming, or walking.

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    The important thing is keep to your plan. You may feel that you could easily do more than the prescribed amount of exercise, but please rein in your enthusiasm. Just do the requisite amount, and not more. This is the trick to establishing an exercise habit without stress or strain.

    Exercise really is a miracle pill. This is what it can do for you:

    1. Helps prevent or manage high blood pressure
    2. Lowers the build-up of plaque in the arteries
    3. Can help prevent type 2 diabetes
    4. Can help prevent osteoporosis
    5. Stimulates the immune response
    6. Can help prevent certain kinds of cancer
    7. Can help recover after illness.
    8. Builds muscle tissue
    9. Strengthens heart and lung function.
    10. Helps manage weight
    11. Promotes good sleep
    12. Helps revitalize sex life
    13. Improves mood
    14. Calms and centers the  mind
    15. Keeps the brain in shape

    You might want to stick this list on your fridge to remind you of the benefits of exercise.

    There are a some important guidelines for exercising. As a general rule, the intensity of exercise should not exceed certain limits. If monitoring heart rate use the simple equation – 200 minus your age (in years) to estimate the working heart rate you should remain under.

    If you don’t exercise, your fitness slips a little each day. The Keizan method of introducing exercise reverses that trend, little by little. Of course we want to feel the benefits of exercise all at once. However, we need to remember that the smaller the steps we take, the easier it is to establish an exercise habit. And that’s what this method is about: building a new exercise habit that sticks.

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    What’s your experience of exercising?

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

    Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

    One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

    When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

    So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

    Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

    This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

    Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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    When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

    Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

    One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

    Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

    An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

    When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

    Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

    Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

    We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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    By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

    Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

    While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

    I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

    You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

    Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

    When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

    Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

    Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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    Con #2: Less Human Interaction

    One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

    Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

    Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

    This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

    While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

    Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

    Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

    This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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    For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

    Con #4: Unique Distractions

    Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

    For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

    To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

    Final Thoughts

    Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

    We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

    More About Working From Home

    Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

    Reference

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