Exercise Archives - Medshield Movement

What Are the Winter Blues? – and How to Help Overcome Them

You might have noticed a lot more people feeling depressed in winter, or suffering from ‘the winter blues,’ even in sunny South Africa. Days are shorter, darker and colder and we’re generally cooped up indoors, now even more with National Lockdown. This can start to have an impact on one’s mood. Here we look at how Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs and what we can do to combat it.

While some cities like Johannesburg and Durban can still enjoy gorgeous sunny afternoons, cities like Cape Town and other parts of South Africa are grey with regular rainfall. In winter, the sun rises in The Mother City around 8 am, while it pops above the horizon before 7 am in Durban and Johannesburg. These changes can make it increasingly harder to get out of bed and to get a morning workout in, adding the winter blues.

Let The Light In

A theory on how SAD works is based on shorter daylight hours. It suggests that light entering the eye changes hormone levels in the body. In our bodies, light functions to stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, causing us to wake up. In winter, we produce higher melatonin, which may result in lethargy and symptoms of depression. Below are behavioural tips that form part of what psychologists call ‘Light Therapy” and are beneficial for getting more light into your life.

  • Go for a midday walk
  • Sit, work or read near a window
  • On weekends, spend more time outdoors
  • Replace your alarm clock with a dawn light. Set the light to a traditional sunrise time and slowly the light will brighten at your dedicated time in the morning, waking you up.
  • If your home generally gets a lot of shade and is thus quite dark in winter, it might be worth investing in a daylight therapy lamp that mimics sunlight to boost your exposure to light.

Move That Body

Another saviour from the seasonal slump of SAD is to get active. Even if the weather is miserable and you don’t feel like heading outdoors, there are several ways to stay active in winter. Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week is effective against depression and is beneficial for healthy muscles and joints.

  • Take a walk whenever you can during the day. Don’t forget your face mask.
  • Have a standing meeting.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Check out free online classes that you can do from the comfort of home. Visit the Medshield Movement portal for free exercise classes or consider our ClickFit programmes.

If the winter blues are affecting your day-to-day life, speak to your doctor. If you need a quick mood boost right now, click here for five ways to lift your mood instantly.

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How to Start Exercising Again after COVID-19 Recovery

For those who have tested positive for COVID-19, it can be tricky to know what’s safe in terms of when you can begin to exercise again and how you should go about it. Here we break down how to start exercising safely after you’ve recovered.

Please note that the tips provided are simply guidelines recommended by professionals for people who have had mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. Before beginning any new exercise routine – and to clear up any personal queries – it is always advisable to consult with your own doctor.

Once you have recovered and no longer experience COVID-19 symptoms, it is advised to begin with low-intensity exercises and less sedentary behaviour that will reduce blood clot risks.

Research published in the review article: Considerations for Return to Exercise Following Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19 in the Recreational Athlete offers us the following information:

  • Physical inactivity is a well-recognised risk to physical and mental health that is associated with increased all-cause mortality. The effects of inactivity can rapidly change the body’s metabolism. A two-week reduction in daily steps from 10 000 to 1 500 steps has been shown to impair insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism and increase visceral fat in otherwise healthy adults. So, it’s important to start moving your body again when you can safely do so.
  • Various cardiac complications have been associated with COVID-19, including arrhythmia, myocarditis and acute myocardial injury. While regular exercise improves cardiovascular health in the long-term, each session of exercise stresses the heart and can trigger potentially lethal arrhythmias in the context of underlying cardiovascular disease. Many non-hospitalised individuals with COVID-19 will likely not develop cardiac manifestations and be able to safely return to exercise. Despite this, care must be taken to ensure the absence of persistent cardiac complications related to COVID-19 prior to returning to exercise.

Cape Town-based Orthopaedic and Sport Physiotherapist, Genine Manchip supplies a 6-step guide to returning to exercise after COVID-19. She advises to begin this programme only when you no longer have symptoms and to progress to the next stage as your body adapts.

6 Stage Guide To Return to Exercise:

  1. Return to activities of daily living (ADL) and walking. Min duration: 10 days.
  2. Low-intensity cardio (under 70% HR max, under 15 minutes). E.g. stationary cycle, swimming, aerobics, yoga. Min duration: 2 days. Try our Brand Ambassador Amy Hoppy’s yoga routine here.
  3. Moderate-intensity / increased frequency of training (under 80% HR max, under 30 minutes). E.g. running drills. Min duration: 1 day.
  4. Duration increases and you can start with more complicated sports (under 80% HR max, under 45 minutes). Min duration: 1 day.
  5. Intensity increase; normal training commences (under 80% HR max, under 1 hour). Min duration: 2 days.
  6. Return to sport as normal.

You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. To work out 80% of your max, you simply multiply 0.8 x your max (175) = 140BMP.

The overarching recommendation? Take it slow and gradually reintroduce physical activity to your routine. Don’t forget to consult your doctor with any queries or for a tailor-made approach to exercising after COVID-19 recovery.

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5 Easy Yoga Poses to Relieve Back Pain

Even before the COVID-19 third wave hit, many of us continued to work from home – even if only part-time. However, as many can attest, working from home has had negative health side effects, one of which is back pain. Without ergonomic work chairs at home, it’s easier to sit on soft couches that don’t offer proper back support for an 8-hour workday, causing lower and upper backaches. Lack of movement also leads to the body stiffening up and all kinds of little pains.

To get your body moving again, here is a list of beginner-friendly yoga poses that you can do in the comfort of your home. The moves will help to ease and release tension in the upper back and iron out any painful kinks. If you don’t have a yoga mat, place a large towel over a flat carpeted or grassed area.


Cat & Cow

Think of this as your gentle warm-up and a nice release for the back. This gentle, accessible backbend stretches and mobilises the spine. Practising this pose also stretches your torso, shoulders, and neck. Start on your hands and knees in a Table Top position, with shoulders directly over wrists and hips over knees.
Inhale and lift your head, chest and tailbone towards the ceiling as you arch your back for Cow pose, sticking your bum out. On the exhale, round your spine and drop your head towards the floor for Cat pose. Tilt your pelvis and gaze towards your belly button.

Slowly repeat, moving on the breath for 30 seconds or up to 1 minute.


Downward-facing Dog to High Plank

This traditional forward bend can be restful and rejuvenating. Practising this pose can help to relieve back pain. From Table Top position, as you inhale, curl your toes and lift your knees up off the mat. As you exhale, extend your hips up towards the ceiling so that your body forms a triangle-like shape or inverted V. Bend your knees slightly if needed, especially as your body warms up. On your next inhale drop your hips and move into High Plank. Adjust your hands if you need to for the first transition, then keep them where they are as you exhale and come back into Downward-facing Dog.

Slowly repeat, moving on the breath for 30 seconds or up to 1 minute.


Cobra

This gentle backbend stretches your abdomen, chest and shoulders. Practising this pose strengthens your spine and may soothe sciatica. From High Plank, lower your body all the way down to the ground. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders, tucking your elbows into your waist.

Inhale to press your chest up off the mat into a Baby Cobra. Hold for three breaths before allowing the body to come back down to the mat on the next exhale.

On your next inhale, press your upper body off the mat into full cobra position, straightening the arms. If this is too much for your body, continue only with baby cobra, repeating three more times. If you can hold a full cobra, repeat baby cobra once more and then full cobra for a second time.


Bridge

This is a backbend and inversion that can be stimulating or restorative. It stretches the spine and may relieve backaches and headaches. Turn around so that you’re lying on your back, arms alongside your body. Lift your knees and point them up towards the ceiling, keeping your feet firmly flat on the mat. As you inhale, lift your lower back first, then middle back, then upper back off the mat. Squeeze your glutes, engage your quads and lift your pelvis. Hold for three breaths, then slowly lower your back all the way down to the mat. Repeat twice more.


Spinal Twist

This restorative twist promotes movement and mobility in the spine and back. It stretches your spine, back and shoulders. It can help relieve pain and stiffness in your back and hips.

Start where you left off in Bridge pose, with your knees pointed up towards the ceiling and arms alongside your body. Keeping your knees and feet together, then slowly drop your knees over to one side, starting with your left. Lower the knees as low as your body allows and hold in this position. You are welcome to place your left hand on top of your right thigh, guiding it down. If it feels comfortable, gaze in the opposite direction (i.e. to the right). Stay here for five breaths and then change sides.

If you’d like to follow a free yoga class online, try this beginner-friendly class here. You also motivate yourself to work out by reading these handy tips.

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Tips To Keep Your Immune System Boosted this Winter

It’s normal this time of year, as temperatures drop and we spend more time indoors, that we pick up a little sniffle, cold or catch flu. Amid COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. With that in mind, here are some easy tips to help keep your health elevated, so that your body can fight off those nasty germs all winter long.

It’s important to remember that our immune systems already do an amazing job of keeping us healthy every day. But often without knowing it, we put our bodies under stress by living an unhealthy lifestyle. This can impact our ability to fight off germs.

While there is still much research happening in this space, there are general healthy-living strategies that can apply to everyone to promote improved wellness.

Healthy-Living Strategies

Your first line of defence against germs is choosing to live a healthy lifestyle. But what does that look like exactly? Let’s look at avoiding behaviours that lower immunity as well as include more behaviours that promote general health and wellness:

  1. Get enough good-quality sleep (between 7 and 9 hours for most adults).
  2. Do not smoke.
  3. If you drink, only drink in moderation.
  4. Eat a diet high in vegetables.
  5. Exercise regularly.

If you’re wanting to get into exercise but don’t know where or how to start, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Visit our Facebook page, where Medshield Movement Ambassadors host free live workouts on Sundays that all are welcome to join. You can also find all our past video workouts here.

If you’re looking to consult with a doctor on how to help you improve your lifestyle or eating habits, visit the Medshield Network to find an expert in your area.

Diet and immunity

When it comes to diet, there are some changes that one can make to support immune functioning. Recently studies have shown a real link between gut health and the immune system. To improve and support gut health, it’s important to eat more whole foods; include fermented foods in your diet, like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha; and take probiotic supplements.

Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil and salmon, may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Make sure you get enough vitamins and nutrients, particularly Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin B. For healthy recipe inspiration and ideas, visit our Resource Hub.

Obesity may increase your risk of getting sick, so try to maintain a healthy weight. See our ClickFit Programmes – free for Medshield members – tailored to help you get fitter, with increased flexibility and strength. There are also fitness programmes designed for total beginners too, so don’t be shy – join the journey!

Additional ways to care for your health and avoid catching germs:

  • Wash both hands properly and regularly with antibacterial soap and hand sanitiser.
  • Stay up-to-date with your vaccines.
  • Include mindfulness practices like yoga, breathwork, meditation or journaling to help ease stress.
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Journaling for stress

How Journaling Can Help to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

When we were teenagers, many of us who didn’t grow up in the digital age, had diaries that we poured our hearts into. As children, we even had homework assignments that focused on writing down our thoughts. The act of journaling comes with many healing benefits and, as adults, although it might feel foreign initially to pick up a pen and jot down your thoughts, it can be extremely therapeutic.

Journaling comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a way to note down ideas or keep track of thoughts. Other times it’s in “dear-diary” format: a way to record, reflect and process experiences. It can also be a way to help set goals or intentions for the future. But one of the main benefits is how it helps to relieve stress.

Journaling for Stress Release

Remember when we were told to write lists of “pros and cons” when facing a big decision? Journaling can work in much the same way and give us a sense of clarity.

The act of writing down your feelings and thoughts can help you to release your frustrations, pains, anxieties and stressors. It often brings a sense of release once you’ve worked through what may be stressing you out.

When you ask yourself how likely a “worst-case scenario” is, you gain a more realistic perspective on life. Getting your thoughts down on paper helps you identify stress-inducing thoughts and beliefs that can be distortions of reality – which is hard to do when you’re in an anxious state. A good example is using overgeneralised words like “always” or “never” to describe your experiences. Start taking note of the language you use and add to situations and experiences, as this will help you discover your mindset, and serve as a starting point for overcoming those feelings.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research conducted on chronically ill patients found that those who journaled regularly experienced fewer physical symptoms than those who did not. Thus the act of journaling can help you to feel physically better too! With prolonged stress hampering your immune system, journaling for boosting immunity from today is a way to begin accessing its benefits fast.

For more information on how journaling may help the immune system, click here.

Practical Tips For Journaling

So, how do you start journaling? These tips should help get you started.

  1. If you don’t know what to start writing about, start with gratitude journaling. Begin by listing what you’re grateful for in the present moment. The act of practising gratitude alone helps to alleviate stress.
  2. Establish a writing time that works for you. Some people like to journal as soon as they wake up, before starting their day. Others prefer to journal at night before they sleep. Carry a notebook with you and find a time of day that works naturally for you.
    (There is no pressure to write every day.)
  3. Write for your eyes only. You can throw the pages away afterwards! This takes the pressure off.
  4. Try using a pen and paper. Give yourself a break from technology, which can be distracting. (Oh, look, a WhatsApp message!) Try to be fully present when you journal.
  5. Try different types of writing to find out what works for you. Begin by writing about yourself (who you are, what your dreams/goals are etc.) Thereafter, try a stream of consciousness – just free-flowing thought without attaching any judgement or analysis. If there is something you’re struggling with, try to write about it in the third person.

Prolonged anxiety can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness. If you’re feeling overwhelmed to the point where your daily life is being affected, your behaviours are changing and you’re starting to feel depressed, reach out. Speak to your doctor, ask for a recommendation to see a psychologist or call the SADAG helpline: 011 234 4837.

If you need to find a doctor, click here for a list of doctors on the Medshield Network.

 

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The Best FREE Running Tracking Apps

There are so many running apps available for download these days that choosing which ones will best support your fitness journey can be a tad overwhelming. To make things easier, we’ve broken down five apps that our experts feel are the most helpful, highly rated and best at giving you the data you want, so that you can improve your performance. These apps sync easily with smartphones and multiple tracking devices, and present data in user-friendly ways.

1. Strava

Strava uses your smartphone’s GPS to help track your runs, which is perfect for novice runners who are just starting out and don’t have all the professional gear yet. Simply press the start button and the app will record your run (or cycle). What adds to the app’s appeal is that it not only tracks distance, provides performance information and records data but is also a social media platform for athletes. One may connect with and follow other runners, offer congratulatory kudos for activities and goals reached, and comment on each other’s performance. Strava clubs also exist where communities set running challenges. Bonus: Strava creates a cute personalised year-end video with all your data.

2. TrainingPeaks

TrainingPeaks keeps records of your runs and performance, lets you know what heart rate zone you were training in and when you’ve reached a new threshold. It syncs to the aforementioned Strava app, as well as other apps and smart watches. Sports coaches use this app to set weekly programmes including training zones for their clients. Of course, you can use it as a tracking app too, but it certainly plays a big role in our new-age online coaching world.

3. Runkeeper

Owned by world-renowned running brand, Asics, Runkeeper is a running track app that helps users set goals, train for them with customised training plans and monitor runs and progress along the way. Its tracking feature and audio cues help with monitoring a runner’s pace, distance and keeps one motivated along the way. Coach in your ear? Yes! There’s also a great running community accessible via the app.

4. MapMyRun

The MapMyRun app, owned by sportswear brand Under Armour, maps your running route while offering popular routes to keep your routine wherever you are in the world. Bonus feature: the app syncs with your Under Armour “smart” running shoes. Track everything from pace, stride length and cadence, plus get personalised coaching tips along the way. Get real-time feedback while you work and post-run tips to get better. Analyse your data in the app or on the web page, then conquer that 5km challenge.

5. Zombies, Run

A fun app that motivates and tracks your runs,  Zombies, Run works by motivating you to run away from fictional zombies. The premise of the story:

You are a runner en-route to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. They need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors and defend their home. And you have another mission,  one they don’t know about! Intrigued? Walk, jog or run anywhere in the world and hear your mission through a set of headphones. If you’re chased by zombies you’ll have to speed up. Good luck!

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Fitness Terminology and Gym Jargon You Need To Know

So you’ve joined a running club, cycling group and got a personal trainer, but the gym jargon has you tongue-tied and confused? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our fitness terminology fact sheet. Now you can sweat less about the words and focus on those gains. Plus check out our fun Tabata workout below!

Fitness Terms

AMRAP – As Many Rounds As Possible

Most likely heard in a CrossFit box, this kind of structured workout is about pushing yourself as much as possible during a set time frame.

BMI – Body Mass Index

A measurement of a person’s weight with respect to their height. The World Health Organization defines an adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 as overweight; over 30 is considered obese; below 18.5 is considered underweight, and between 18.5 to 24.9 a “healthy” weight. (This is more of a guideline and not used as an accurate measure of health.)

To calculate your body mass index, divide your weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. For e.g. a woman weighing 65kg will divide that by her height, 170cm, squared. Mathematical equation: 65 / 1.7 x 1.7 (2.89) = 22.4 = a “healthy” BMI.

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

DOMS is an expression you may often hear as gloat, disguised as a moan:  “Yoh, I’ve got bad DOMS”. Any kind of exercise can lead to DOMS, which is a delayed onset of stiffness (usually about two days) after you’ve pushed yourself beyond what your body is used to. Likely culprits include running and weight training. You can help ease this by foam rolling and stretching, warming up and cooling down sufficiently.

EMOM – Every Minute On The Minute

In an EMOM workout, you start a new move with a specific rep count every minute. Upon completion of the reps, you get to recover for the rest of the minute. It’s a powerful way to structure a workout that plays with your work-rest period dynamically.

For e.g. In the first minute you must complete 20 burpees; in the second minute 40 bicycle curls; third minute 20 push-ups and so on. If you complete 20 burpees in 40 seconds, you can rest for the remaining 20 seconds.

FTP – Functional Threshold Power

A term tossed around casually by experienced cyclists that can be confusing for new riders. Simply put, FTP is the average number of watts that a rider can sustain in an hour. It acts as a measure of fitness/strength. Free apps, like Wattbike, offer a 20-minute FTP test that you can complete on a watt bike. Other apps, like Sufferfest, take it further by testing 4DP to give you an indication of FTP, AC, NM and MAP. It helps to dictate and tailor-make cycling training programmes and is a good way to track performance and improvement.

HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training

The perfect example of HIIT workouts is the live online training sessions with Medshield Ambassador Mapule Ndhlovu for the Medshield Movement.  It’s tough and meant to keep your heart rate high. It’s a form of interval training: a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods – until you’re too exhausted to continue.

REP vs SET

Rep is short for repetition and one “rep” is the action of one complete strength-training exercise, like one biceps curl. Sets are how many reps you do in a row between periods of rest. When a coach says: “Do three sets of 20 reps of deadlifts”, not only will you be tired, but you’ll be doing 60 deadlifts with two breaks (one after each 20 is completed).

RPE – Rated Perceived Exertion

RPE tells which intensity level you should be exercising at and can help with training programmes and tracking fitness. For e.g. If you are doing an online workout and it says that your RPE should be “two”, then you know it’s easy, compared to “eight”, which is super tough. Most exercise is done at a moderate level of three or four. If your coach instructs you to run at an RPE of 7, then you’re running at 70% of your body’s effort. The Strava fitness app defines the scale as:

– Easy (1-3): May talk normally, breathe naturally and feel very comfortable.

– Moderate (4-6): Could talk in short spurts, breathing feels more laboured, within your comfort zone, but working.

– Hard (7-9): May barely talk, breathe heavily, outside your comfort one.

– Max effort (10): At your physical limitation or past it, gasping for breath. No talking.

TABATA – A type of HIIT (see above)
This structured exercise has a specific format that you might come across in a CrossFit box or other gym studios. TABATA consists of eight sets of fast-paced exercises, each performed for 20 seconds interspersed with a brief rest of 10 seconds. It originated in Japan as a way to improve cardio and increase metabolism. Use this method to create a fun/hard workout for yourself at home! Here is an example to try:

20 seconds skipping, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds lunges on the right, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds lunges on the left, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds high plank with shoulder taps, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds high plank with foot jumps (in and out), 10 seconds rest
20 seconds burpees, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds jumping squats, 10 seconds rest

Vo2 Max – Maximum Oxygen Uptake

Vo2 Max is your maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during exercises of increasing intensity, like running faster (gradually) on a treadmill or picking up speed on an exercise bike. It is a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness that you can use to determine how fit you are and track performance. This is expressed as millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute (ml/kg/min).

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Improve Your Balance With These 5 Moves

Why is it important to improve your balance? Having better balance means that your body will naturally be able to complete certain physical tasks more easily. If you’re an athlete, having better balance will increase your performance and make you more agile. For non-athletes improved balance means everyday tasks become easier, like walking on grass and having more control over your everyday movements. Plus, improving balance has also been shown to help prevent injuries!

5 Moves To Improve Your Balance

1. Bird Dog

Start in Table Top position, hands beneath shoulders, knees (two fists apart) directly beneath hips. Inhale as you lift your right arm and extend it straight out in front of you. At the same time lift the left leg and extend it straight out in front of you. Hold for 10 seconds and then change sides.

Advanced: Hold for 10 seconds and then add a few elbow-to-knee crunches and then extend back out into Bird Dog pose and back into the crunch.

2. High Lunge

From Table Top position, step your right foot forward between your hands and then lift up into a high lunge. Both feet are facing on separate tracks (hip-width apart), the back leg is straight, front knee bent so that the front thigh is as parallel to the mat as possible. Arms are raised up towards the ceiling, palms facing each other. Hold for 10 seconds and then change sides.

Advanced: Add a prayer twist to the side of the leg that is in front at the time and hold for an additional 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

3. Chair Pose

Bring your ankles and knees to touch and then sit down in an imaginary chair. Keep the chest lifted, eyes gazing straight ahead, arms raised up towards the ceiling. Shrug the shoulders away from the ears and sit down deeper into the chair. Rock back onto your heels. Hold for 20 seconds.



Advanced: Add toe taps to the Chair posture. Place a block or small object (like a water bottle or your mask) next to your right foot. Then, while in Chair pose, lift the right foot up and over the object, tapping down on the other side. Repeat five times, come back into Chair and then change sides.

4. Toe Stand

From a normal standing posture, hands and arms resting alongside the body (or crossed at your chest), start to come all the way up onto your toes. Hold for 10 seconds, then come back down again. Repeat two to three times.

Advanced: After coming up onto your toes, raise your arms, so that they’re parallel with the mat and, while keeping your ankles lifted, sit down slowly into the imaginary chair and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat two to three times.

5. One-Legged Tadasana

From a normal standing posture, inhale as you lift your right knee up so that your thigh is parallel to the mat and your leg forms a 90-degree angle. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Change sides and repeat on the left.

Advanced: Add a twist! Once you are in the One-Legged Tadasana, place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and twist open to the right with your right arm extended out, parallel to the mat and hold for 10 seconds before returning to your One-Legged Tadasana.

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How To Motivate Yourself To Work Out

Knowing how to motivate yourself to work out when you’re tired, feeling meh or even having to start alllll the way from the beginning can feel so hard! We have some advice that can help you get back onto the fitness wagon!

Maybe the first two or three weeks of January you had a streak going… A programme, a goal, regular workouts that you stuck to. But now, as time moves on, lockdown lingers and work picks up, that motivation can start to fade and you start missing a session here and there…

Or maybe you haven’t been able to get started this year. You haven’t found a routine or a goal or something to drive you to get up and move your body.

Either way, we are here to help!!

With the below tips and advice, we’ll show you how to motivate yourself to work out!

 

Accept That Motivation Doesn’t Happen Every Day

That’s right! There are days when you will have zero motivation to do anything. And that’s okay! Because there are other far more powerful tools to help you: routine and discipline. Building a routine means that even though you might not feel like exercising, you know that, say, on Thursdays you run. And the discipline to follow that routine means that on Wednesday evening you pack out your clothes, set your alarm and when you wake up in the morning, you don’t even have to think, you just go.

 

Get Accountability Partners

Make fitness dates with friends, family or colleagues. These do not have to be in-real-life! They could be virtual fitness dates, like committing to doing that live workout together, tracking it and comparing your calorie burn and taking sweaty selfies and sending them to each other. Commit to meeting for a socially distanced run or getting your 10 000 steps in.

The more you surround yourself with people who are into working out, the more you will do so too!

Check out some of our amazing free workouts: Mapule’s HIIT session, Amy’s HIIT energizer session or Jonathan Boynton-Lee Workout Programme.

 

Join a Club

While our world looks very different right now, we still need community. Join a fitness club or get a coach in your area. Joining a running club often means you often get access to running coaches and a programme, plus you now you’ll have like-minded people with you on the same journey. Even if connecting in real life isn’t possible, many of these clubs and programmes set up whatsapp groups to stay connected, share data and motivation.

You will need to share your data with your coach and this alone will motivate you and keep you accountable! And this all leads to the next point…

 

Pick A Goal

Picking a goal looks different to how it did before, because we don’t have as many “races” happening in real life or on the calendar, but many organisations are still doing virtual events! A good example is the Pirates 21km – Joburg’s toughest half marathon! Where you can enter and run the route any weekend in February. More info here!
Focusing on a fitness goal instead of a weight-loss goal can also be more motivating, because weight can be such a fickle thing and not always easy to see results. But if you focus on a fitness goal, like being able to run 10km without stopping or doing 10 full push-ups in a row, weight-loss and strength will be natural benefits while you feel like you’re achieving a skill.

Need some help? Check out our ClickFit downloadable programmes, free and exclusive to Medshield Members. Try the two-week basic body-weight kickstart, the four-week total transformation, the six-week HIIT workout or the eight-week total transformation programme.

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Here are 5 ways to Instantly Get a Mood Boost

The start of the new work year and the lingering pandemic can leave many of us feeling stressed, overwhelmed and in need of a quick mood boost!

Here are five easy ways in which you can give yourself that mood boost!

 

  1. Get up and change your body position.

 

This could be a simple movement, like standing up and stretching your arms toward the ceiling or even shrugging your shoulders up and then away from your ears a few times. This helps us to release tension that we often tend to store in our neck and shoulders and create a sense of relaxation.

 

Also, just the act of moving your body and changing position can help to change your headspace.

 

  1. Play your fave song.

 

No matter where you are, pop your headphones on and play your fave mood-boosting song. Better yet, take some time over the weekend or in the evening to create a mood-boosting playlist that you can tap into when you need it. Try this playlist.

 

  1. Watch a funny video.

 

Seriously. There’s a reason why these videos go viral – they make people laugh, which instantly boosts your mood. Search “funny animal videos” in youtube and allow yourself five to 10 minutes to zone out and laugh at goats. Try this.

 

  1. Take a quick walk or practise some yoga

 

Moving your body changes your energy and getting fresh air can revitalise the brain and rejuvenate the body. Practising a few yoga movements will also help to relieve stress and offer you a mood boost. Need some help? Check out our videos here.

 

  1. Practise Gratitude

 

Taking a few minutes to write down or even think of three things you are grateful for in this very moment, can give you a mood boost. The consistent practice of gratitude has been shown to help increase overall feelings of contentment and happiness.

 

Know When It’s Time To Ask For Help

 

Prolonged anxiety can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness as well as physical symptoms like exhaustion, lack of sleep and heart palpitations to name a few. If you’re feeling overwhelmed to the point where your daily life is being affected, your behaviour is changing and you’re starting to feel depressed, reach out. Speak to your doctor, ask for a recommendation to see a psychologist or call the SADAG helpline: 011 234 4837.

If you need to find a doctor, click here for a list of doctors on the Medshield Network.

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