What is your “thing?”
What is it that you look forward to doing when given a few minutes of free time?
That thing that makes you wish you had a few more minutes of free time so you could continue doing?
Does your thing include any kind of movement or physical activity?
The links between physical activity and mental health are clear. Exercise regulates the body’s central stress response system which helps reduce cortisol and other harmful stress hormones. The constant release of those stress hormones over time wears away at our body and our minds.
That doesn’t have to mean you have to go run a marathon or a 10K every day. Heck, you don’t even need to run – you just need to start by moving. Our bodies are designed to move and they don’t care that you are too busy right now. Our bodies haven’t adapted to the modern sedentary lifestyle the way our society has. It is why we just “feel better” when we are active.
Optimal health is finding the link between physical health, mental health, and nutrition. At Backswath we call this the 3-leg stool. If you picture your overall health as a 3-leg stool, physical health, mental health, and nutrition can be considered each of the individual legs. The goal is to maintain the balance between the three. If one leg is too long or too short, the stool become wobbly and needs to be shored up. The same goes for our health.
Endurance sports are my “thing”. I got into triathlons about 7 or 8 years ago around the time we started having kids. (Important note: taking up a sport that involves training in three different sports – swimming, biking, and running – while starting a family is not the ideal choice for a marital bliss.) Over the years I have branched out a bit and have done some long biking adventures and lots of running races in addition to the triathlons. This spring after Covid-19 hit and all the triathlons looked like they were being cancelled I decided to spend most of my athletic time running.
The local Manitoba Marathon takes place on Father’s Day. It is an event I run nearly every year with my Dad and brother – usually we run the half-marathon. This year it got pushed back to Thanksgiving weekend in hopes of being able to hold a safe event. I decided to tackle the full marathon and even though I knew there was a decent chance it would be cancelled (it was), it kept me motivated. I didn’t realize at the time what impact it would have on my mental health. Like many, the spring lockdown, quiet summer and stresses of fall were prevalent, but running kept the stress hormones in check helped me feel prepared and on top of my day.
If you think you need to run a marathon, you are wrong. My wife is nothing like me – she is normal (ish). She likes walking and yoga. This summer she bought a bike so she could take our kids on some bike rides. She has absolutely fallen in love with cycling. She makes point to try and get out every day for a ride. Usually 45-60 minutes or around 15-20 km – depending what she can get. Sometimes just herself, sometimes my oldest guy (9) goes with her. She found her “thing” this summer and it has helped her immensely as well.
In many parts of the country it looks like we could be in for a tough winter. Winter can be a challenge at the best of times, and with the current pandemic and the surging Covid-19 numbers in most places in Canada, this one has the potential to be a little extra challenging. That can be magnified even more in rural areas. There isn’t always as many social events in the winter months, and the few that are typically available may not be running this year.
We can’t control what is happening in the world around it, but we do have some say in how we operate within that world. At Backswath, we like simple rules. Develop 3 or 4 basic rules to keep you moving this winter and guide your fitness choices. This approach gives you the flexibility to work within your rules, but not so restrictive that it feels like work and becomes another thing to try and fit into your life. It also makes it easier get back on track if you miss a few days or a few weeks. It’s important to really find the rules that fit you and offer enough flexibility to fit your life.
How do I do that? Glad you asked!
- Find that thing that you look forward to or makes you feel good that involves movement.
- Make a plan that fits your life – including discussing with those in your household.
- Don’t try and be perfect – something is better than nothing.
- Start now – not Monday, or next week. Even if your goal or plan is to walk for 45 minutes or do some form of workout for 30 min – at least do 10 minutes today. Start it. That is improvement.
Build on that momentum. Move, make it a habit, then build on it.
Find your “thing”.
If you would like to speak to one of our consultants about this topic contact us.