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How to start exercising when you haven't done any since skiving PE lessons at school...

I hold my hands up. I have NEVER been a fan of exercise. I got away with it when I was younger as I didn't have a car and walked or cycled miles everyday. I would occasionally join a gym, go to some classes, or do a workout video but nothing ever stuck. One problem was that I wanted immediate results (not possible) and it was too much effort (there's always going to be effort involved).

In 2017 I lost a lot of weight purely through diet. I did zero exercise. So I knew I didn't need to do exercise to lose or maintain weight.

But then, a few months ago I decided I wanted to get up and move more. I knew it was good for your physical health, mental health, helps you sleep etc etc etc. Mainly I just wanted to do something for myself. Something that was only for me where I could clear my mind, get some fresh air and get fitter at the same time. So I downloaded the couch25k app and started running. I wish I could say I had an epiphany and realised how enjoyable running is. I didn't. BUT it wasn't as bad as I thought. No one was laughing at my slow jog. No one was really paying me much attention at all except the occasional friendly dog walker saying hello. The couch25k app also slowly increases your activity (alternating running and walking for varying amounts of time) so within a few weeks I could see a marked improvement. As I can run straight from my front door there is limited effort involved other than changing my clothes and shoes, picking a podcast to listen to and getting out there. Some days I am more keen to run than others... but I have never regretted going.

After a couple of months I was much more comfortable running and on my way to running 5km within 30 minutes 3 times a week. I decided it was time to get my bike (which I got on a cycle to work scheme 3 years ago and never used) serviced and start going for bike rides too. I wanted something I could alternate with my running. So once the bike was safe to use, I purchased a new helmet and went out on my first bike ride. Without even trying I covered about 10km. Again this is something I can do straight from my door, with relatively little effort.

So do I now love exercise? No. BUT I DON'T HATE IT EITHER!! That is a huge improvement for me. And on occasion I have been known to actually want to go out for a run or a bike ride. That was previously unheard of!

What is I like about it? My goal with exercise was to do something for me, clear my mind and get some fresh air. That is exactly was it does. It's very rural where I live so I see some beautiful nature, plants and wildlife that help me feel centred and mindful. The sky seems huge and it gives me cause to consider my place in this crazy universe. It calms me. I think you can find wonder in any surroundings if you reward yourself with the time and space to do this, it doesn't need to be somewhere rural. Big cities are beautiful too!

If you're thinking about starting up an exercise regime think about what you want to get out of it, what you can stick to and what barriers might get in your way. Address those barriers. If you want to start moving more to improve your physical and mental wellbeing you can start with a simple walk, taking in your surroundings, listening to your favourite music or podcast. Whatever you choose to do, remember that you are doing for you.

Be you. Be true. Be happy.

Olivia xoxo

Typical view when out on a run or bike ride

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