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Not the sporting type? Friday June 21, 2013

Everyone says that exercise is good for you, mentally as well as physically. It does you good and makes you feel good. As a tool for lifting mood and dampening anxiety, for many people it's as effective as medication. We all know this. And yet...

Exercising works on several levels. There's the calming effect of regular deep breathing and repetitive movement - jogging being a good example. There's the sense of achievement that comes with overcoming the easy option of giving up. There's the natural endorphin high which is stimulated by strenuous exercise. Finally, there's the meditative effect of concentrating on something outside yourself, like a tennis ball, which can quieten negative self-talk. (The best books on this aspect of sport are by Timothy Gallwey, author of the highly influential Inner Game of Tennis.)

So why not start improving the exercise quotient of your life. How about a walk. Vigorous walking has been shown to be almost as effective as jogging for enhancing CV fitness, by doing just three 30 minute sessions a week.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Geoff Fri, Jun 21st 2013 @ 11:40am

Despite considering myself as having a pretty healthy lifestyle overall, I don't like the idea of exercise as a regular discipline.
However, I do swim - sometimes as often as twice per week though sometimes (I have to acknowledge) not at all in a month. What I notice is that when I fall into a regular weekly rhythm, then it is easier to go and get into the water which easily becomes a self-reinforcing virtuous cycle. My stamina and strength increase and I feel good about the exercise and feel a real benefit in doing it. Problem is, often times I think that I can't create that rhythm; it's just something that happens to me rather than me creating it and I start to wallow in a less virtuous cycle.

Another place you would never see me in a million years is the gym! All that sweating, pounding, pumping, grunting (and other people being able to see me!) - no that fills me with dread and revulsion for some strange reason. Even though I also admire peoples discipline for taking it on and looking to address their weight and fitness issues.

However, I have found a gym that suits me as much as swimming. And I have to book the next session eac week which means that I am much more likely to go. It would have to be different to get me there and it is. Very different. The one that I go to is The Exercise Club in Bristol (I think it deserves a plug) - top end of Whiteladies Road. I 'do' six machines and spend about 2 minutes on each. Twelve minutes exercise in total. That suits me down to the ground!
And strangely, the aim is not to push myself to do as many 'reps' as possible (inner scream at the thought), but to push myself hard enough that I can only do four!! And I'm not allowed to grunt, grimace or throw weights around. In fact, those that do get direct feedback about it and they usually don't come back.

Sounded strange and counter intuitive to me, but it works. I began to feel much stronger, broader and better about my self image in just a few sessions. I'm certainly motivated enough to drive 50 minutes each way from Stroud and spend the £13.50 for a 1 to 1 session each week.

Alex, the instructor, suggests that the process also optimises the hormonal body to reduce symptoms of depression and diabetes amongst all the other benefits of strengthening and straightening the body.

Annie Fri, Jun 21st 2013 @ 12:18pm

Hi Geoff,
I'm glad you've found something that suits you.

If you're someone who doesn't like sport, why not try Tai Chi? I'm not at all attracted to doing any sport but love this and find it benefits me hugely in all sorts of ways. I've been practising for a number of years and am now instructing.

It can do everything that Andrew described in his description of how exercise can benefit us. And is great for social contact too as it's best practiced in class with others. It is also non competitive and can be practised by anyone at any level of fitness or health (or even disadvantaged by disability or injury) In other words when practised regularly it improves and maintains good health physically, mentally and spiritually.

Geoff Fri, Jun 21st 2013 @ 4:16pm

Hi Annie

Funny you should mention Tai Chi . . .

. . . I have been attending classes for the last 18 months or so!

Thanks for making the suggestion though.

Go Well

Anonymous Fri, Jun 21st 2013 @ 7:40pm

This comment is very timely for me. I had been rock bottom for several months and my GP had suggested switching my meds. I read about the new meds and decided that I did not want to risk all the side effects. So I decided to make a last effort before taking this advice and push myself to do all the things we know we should do but don't/can't/won't do when we are low. I went out to a concert last night and walked this morning for an hour and a half up a very steep local hillside. I feel so much better, and as you suggest, so proud of myself.

rachel Fri, Jun 21st 2013 @ 10:35pm

That's awesome I admire your determination to go out to the concert and go for a big walk despite how you felt. And great to see that it did helped. I have been trying to do the same thing and do find that not following the feelings but doing what I know is helpful- exercise, meditation etc does really help.

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