Rush, rush, rush. Whatever happened to the idea that the 21st century would be a time of leisure for all? With family commitments, long hours, long commutes and squeezing in some socialising, it is no wonder that health can take a back seat. Hence the rise of quick workouts that fit maximum effort into minimum time.
A seven-minute workout or a session of high-intensity interval training is fine for those tough enough. However there are 168 hours in the week, so even the most dedicated will only be spending a small fraction of that time in the gym.
That’s where conscious movement comes in. What is it and how does it fit into life?
Conscious movement can be thought of as ‘mindful exercise’. It means being aware of what is happening to your body as you move. It means thinking about how you do things and how you look after your body. We only get one body so it is worth the effort.
We all feel indestructible in our twenties and thirties. Anyone middle-aged will tell you that ‘later life turns’ up sooner than you think, so get yourself fit for it. That means controlled weight, healthy eating, not smoking (as if!) and a sensible attitude to alcohol. It also means keeping moving and flexible. There’s more to that than an hour or two of intense work.
Bring on the acronyms! Start with being NEAT: non exercise activity thermogenisis. Which means, simply, adding extra effort to everyday tasks. Then add LISS: low intensity steady state exercise. A brisk walk, a cycle ride or a swim are the classic ways to do this. Yoga, Pilates and similar gentler workouts also hit the spot.
Beat the rush – slow down occasionally. Gentler exercise has value too.
It's true that we feel inidestructible when we're younger, as now I'm in my early 40s I definitely find I'm becoming more conscious of my movements without even trying to be - you just have to!
I started implementing NEAT when I found that it was always easier to park at the far end of the supermarket carpark. A bit more movement and less chance of a bashed car. Result!
I do like yoga and pilates but I never find they satisfy my appetite for a decent workout, so I have to carve out time for both - which is a challenge. There's so many ways to exercise which we apparently should be doing, it makes me feel like I',m always missing something important out.
I am a way off middle age, but all the sport has left me with a fair few injuries which make themselves known at times. I struggle with the patience needed, but hopefully I can convince myself that slower exercise still counts.
this is quite timely as I've just been discussing with my mum about slowing down, and she told me she really started to enjoy exercise more in her 40s as she could take her time more and not feel bad about it! We all put the pressure on ourselves to put in mega-effort, when actually I bet we'd all just like a gentle jog.