Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
THE Coronavirus 2019… it brought me to thinking about lots of aspects of health and fitness throughout my time in lockdown, both positive and negative, but aside from keeping the pounds off whilst stuck at home for weeks on end whether you’re working or not, and my previous week’s article with my nutrition advice and numerous at home workouts, I have also thought a lot about mental health. Not only my own, but the mental health of my family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, everyone.
It been a challenging time, isolated from our loved ones, no work to go to, kids stuck at home and, yes, please goodness, the worst is behind us as we slowly come out of lockdown and our beautiful country begins to reopen, but it gave me apple for thought. Thoughts, or acknowledgement, that I know I’d be lost without exercise for my mental health, to keep me thinking positively and on some days, exercise gave me purpose to my day.
From pounding the footpath to at home work-outs, my food, sleep and meditation proved all essential for my mental wellness. It is all about balance in life and creating new, healthy habits at this uncertain time in our lives.
We don’t all have to exercise to be the most fit person on the street, or to do the most online workouts possible and post to social media about them, we need to exercise for weight management and more importantly to help our organs, our health. Cardio is great for helping our heart and lungs work to the best of their ability and we need to lift weights – light weights assist mobility and help bone density. All these things get increasingly important as we age, which is when we generally begin to slow down. It’s so important to keep going, keep exercising, keep walking, whatever it is, keep going.
Exercise releases ‘feel good’ hormones so when you exercise you will feel so much better afterwards and have a much clearer mind. If I have a big decision to make or I’ve been struggling with something, I will always try to exercise before I address any problem, I always feel 100% better and more efficient with decision making after working out.
From a run to a brisk walk, either one helps me see more clearly afterwards. Have you ever meditated? It is something I thought I would find very hard with my job being so active and I’m always on the go, but you would be surprised how 10 minutes in your day is so manageable to sit or lie down and switch off and be one with your own thoughts. I’m finding a lot more time to meditate at the minute and I am taking that as one of the many personal positives this pandemic has given me. Meditation on a regular basis can reduce stress and anxiety in your life and help you feel and think more positively.
Try finding a quiet space in your home at a quiet time, when the house is empty to start. Sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation, do this in silence or with some relaxing music or sounds in the background. I love the sound of the sea, the waves calm me.
Stay here for 10 minutes or whatever time you want. Stretch when you’re done to wake yourself back up and now you are ready to take on the day and its challenges, from kids, school runs, homework, to work, dinners and gym, nothing will be too much as your brain will be ready. I promise it works, try it today, you will feel ready to take on the world.
Don’t underestimate the power of your mind. Yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation which are all important for helping to improve your inner calm and your outer strength. Why not look up a class near you today (there are loads online), because again exercise doesn’t have to be running miles or lifting weights, practising yoga and meditation is just as good for you.
Now is the time to try all these new things, from the comfort of your home or garden whilst this sunshine lasts.