COVID-19 has challenged all of us to get or stay active. Despite all the restrictions in place, the government is still encouraging us to go outside to exercise for both physical and mental health. While this has given some people a new reason to get active, for others the stress of COVID-19 has sapped the motivation to exercise.
In fact, motivation is a bit like a bad friend – never there when you need it. That’s why instead of looking for motivation, our goal should be to create habits. The key to maintaining a habit is experiencing success, which releases endorphins that keep us coming back for more. This becomes an ever-rewarding circle. Here are two practical ways to feel success with your physical activity to build the habit.
To be mindful means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment, all through a gentle and nurturing lens. Mindfulness can be applied to anything, including exercise. Try the following while walking:
- When you’re out walking, enjoy the sensation of the air and the sun on your skin.
- Notice the leaves changing.
- Smile at strangers who are sharing your experience.
- Breathe deeply, feeling your lower ribs expand.
- Think about lifting your feet and walk confidently.
- Swing your arms – this will increase the amount of work that your core does.
- Notice if you are feeling a little puffed. Don’t judge – just notice.
- Notice your feelings at the beginning of the walk compared to the end.
All of these little things will make you feel good – which is the reward we need to keep walking until it becomes routine.
Another way to experience success is to monitor your progress with testing, which is easy to do at home. Mark the testing date on your calendar, and re-test in a month’s time to track your results!
To test your fitness, find a place where you can measure a distance of about 20 metres, such as a corridor or a footpath. Make sure the path is clear and level. If you are using a footpath, you could walk the distance between telephone poles or letterboxes. If indoors, put an object (such as a plastic cup) at each end of your walking course.
Keep track of how many laps you can complete in two minutes. You can do this by putting several paperclips in your pocket. Each time you complete a lap, move a paperclip to the other pocket.
Record the number of laps here: __________ x 20m = ___________ m
Measure your distance weekly.
If the distance you can walk increases, your fitness has improved.
To test your leg strength, use a watch or clock to time yourself standing fully upright and sitting back down five times in a row without stopping. Do this as quickly as you can, but safely. You can use your arms to help you rise from the chair.
Record the time here: _______ seconds
Use arms? Y / N
Time yourself every week.
If you are faster or don’t need to use your arms to assist you, your leg strength has improved.
To test your balance, stand beside the kitchen bench, holding on for support. Lift one foot off the floor. When you feel steady, let go of the bench. See how long you can stand on one leg without support. You’ll need someone to time you.
Timing begins when you drop your hand to your side. Timing ends if you: reach for the bench, lean on the bench, put your foot down or reach 30 seconds. Record your time below and repeat with your opposite leg.
Record the time:
R leg _________ seconds, L leg_________ seconds
Need help with your strength training? Check out our Strength for Life program. Some of our providers are offering online support.