Published Date: 31st May 2023.
A large proportion of contractors I have spoken to have been keen to discuss their exercise regime or lack thereof. There are many reasons why someone isn’t moving as much as they’d like. My belief is that the reason for wanting to incorporate more exercise into your day needs to be based on the most effective ‘why’.
Your ‘why’ is your bigger reason for doing something. Commonly the ‘why’ I hear is purely physical.
For example: “I want to lose weight or get stronger” or instead of saying “I want to”, we use “should”, as we know it’s something we should be doing on a regular basis for our physical health.
While these goals can be effective, many struggle to find the motivation to create a habit based around them because no instant gratification (or feedback) that connects to that goal – it’s longer-term focused and not intrinsically motivated.
Why is understanding the ‘why’ behind your actions most effective? Because when you focus on the good feelings of moving your body and appreciating the benefits to your brain and mind immediately following the movement and throughout your day, you are more likely to be motivated to do it again tomorrow and the day after.
Think of it like your mental health medication that needs to be ‘taken’ daily for you to feel at your best.
The Benefits of Moving for Your Mind
The benefits to your brain, your mind and your mental well-being of regular/daily movement are significant.
These benefits of moving more will inevitably positively affect how you show up at work and your life beyond. By increasing your movement frequency over time, you will also experience real physical benefits – a great side effect of exercise. The key is to improve the consistency of your movement combined with the focus on mind-healthy benefits to see longer-term results and create that desired habit.
Our Tips for Moving More
While most resources suggest at least 30- 60 minutes of exercise 3 times per week, this can be difficult to maintain as a habit, especially when you’re just starting out.
My suggestion to everyone who wants to improve their movement quality and quantity is first to create the habit and desire to exercise before you increase the duration. Here are my tips for moving more:
Do it Daily: Aim to move more every day. Whenever/however you can. Every amount of movement is hugely beneficial to your mood and brain. Another form of this is called incidental activity – movement accumulated throughout the day in small amounts, such as taking the stairs at work or parking a little further from the shops. It all adds up.
A Small Target is Key: Set a goal of doing a small duration (5 – 10 mins) every morning before doing anything else. Why? Because this helps create the habit. A short workout first thing is crucial before your brain wakes up and realises what you are doing, so it doesn’t get a chance to come up with reasons why not. Short bursts of exercise are harder to say no to. Once you start you can make it longer but do those 5 mins at least once daily. You’ll soon find that you look forward to doing it in the morning, at which time the duration and intensity can increase.
Avoid Your Phone: Many people spend the first portion of their day giving their precious brain power away to the outside world through checking their phones. So a great tip is to keep your phone off until you’ve worked out. Be disciplined with this and keep your phone off or on flight mode until you’ve taken care of yourself first. This one step alone could radically improve your overall mood and cognitive energy throughout your whole day.
Celebrate! Every step you take to move more should be celebrated. That will gradually change your neurology so that it ingrains in your brain as part of you – it becomes just what you do and your brain will keep looking for more opportunities to move on its own.
Make it Fun: Choose something fun to do or quick and easy that you can improve on (like push-ups). Youtube has countless great free workouts, too. For example, fun for me is a resistance band workout, barre or yoga first thing in the morning – they even have 5 min classes!
Choose a Type of Movement: It’s common to think of movement as cardio, but incorporating strength training into your movement practice will feel amazing! Intense cardio might not lift you up if you are tired or stressed; we already know it can increase your elevated cortisol levels. Lifting weights, resistance bands, and body weight exercises like certain forms of yoga may boost your mood more than cardio will. Give it a try.
Schedule It: Recognise that this is the most important priority in your day because it positively affects everything else you do. Treat it as any other important event on your calendar. You deserve this time. Don’t leave it until you ‘have time’ because you won’t find it. You and everyone you interact with will benefit from making this a priority.
Do it for Your Mind: As already mentioned, use the goal of your mental well-being and mind fitness as your ‘why’ to increase your motivation of prioritising moving every day. Think of it as your daily ‘mental medication’.
I hope this helps you move more, strengthen your brain and mind and feel much better, more focused, energised and productive throughout your day. It’s not the only type of moving you could do to make yourself feel more productive, either!
If you are still looking for motivation to get moving in your career, we'd be happy to talk you through the benefits! Contact Us and let us know if you have any questions or need any help finding your next step.