After a week of indulgence, it feels natural to return my focus to the body and mind. Sure, positivity and healthy food will get you far in life but in order to have balance it is critical to include exercise in the mix. If you think about it, food feeds the soul, motivational reflection the mind and exercise the body – triangle of health complete!

Is exercise part of your life? If not just think about this: according to the NHS we should all work out 150 minutes a week – 2.5 hours. It sounds like a lot but essentially equates to five 30 minute sessions. If you can do this, the health benefits are a reduced risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety and depression. Not bad really.

Still not convinced, still feel like exercise is this massive mental mountain to climb –let me try to change your mind then….

I discovered exercise at university. Unisport is where I earned my wages to pay for the tins of beans I lived on, and where I spent most of my non studious time either working out or trying to get others to do so! After university I got a job, got married and had children. Exercise took second, no third; no….actually I didn’t have time; or more honestly, did not prioritise it. When life is full it is so easy to let go of exercise but what most people do not realise is that this physical activity actually feeds you energy.

To fit exercise into my life, I started running. Needing a goal, I signed up to run a half marathon having never run longer than 5k. Very quickly, running became a way of life and a source of tremendous joy. The freedom of it. No ties. No fees to pay. Music in my ears, shoes on and out the door. Running enabled me to think with no interruptions. To get away from it all. Today, if ever I am in a bad mood, I go for a run. I always come home energised and positive.

You may be reading this thinking: “I can’t run. I am overweight. I don’t have time. I can’t afford new shoes or the correct gear….” If you are honest though, all these are excuses! Anyone can run, as long as it is built up slowly and with a planned programme in mind. It helps setting small goals to begin with such as 10 minutes of continuous running, then 15 – maybe entering a 5k race. The feeling of accomplishment as you surpass these will be immense and keep you motivated. Your body will start to feel stronger, you will sleep better, eat more healthily. It is a self-reinforcing circle of positivity.

Having said that, maybe running is not for you and not the way you will get your 30 minute sessions crammed into your life. That does not mean lack of exercise though, as luckily there are many ways to get your heart rate going! Pick up and read a leaflet from your local gym and see what is on offer – try different things and see what gets you excited, what gets your endorphins flowing! For those not used to exercising, the rush of endorphins is what often gets people addicted to exercise. The release of endorphins is triggered when you push yourself physically and gives a sensation of being high; being unbeatable.

Exercise should be a priority in your life if it is not already, but in order for this to happen it has to comfortably fit into your lifestyle. Maybe it will be in your lunch break, maybe you have to wake up early and go before work – or wait until the children are tucked in and your husband or wife home. It could be a fitness DVD with the children crawling all over you, a brisk walk to and from school in the morning, chasing the tube on your way to work (take the stairs instead of the lift!). Just think of the benefits to you and think of the people who care about you and want you around for many years to come!

If nothing else, start exercising to be a role model for your children. They love coming to football matches to see mum or dad play, they can be with you in a pool once you are done with your laps, they can clap as you cross the finish line of a race and I am sure they can be tempted to have a snack at the bar in the rugby club!

Invest a little time in your health…it will be reinvested in yourself, times a thousand, every time you wake up energised and feel those endorphins pumping through your body!

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