For many of us, ‘naturally athletic’ are two words we have never used to describe ourselves, nor will they ever be used in a conversation about us. Nonetheless, it is important that this doesn’t deter you from trying to lead a more active lifestyle. Mainly because, a fair few of the problems we face on a daily basis, are due to our bodies asking for us to be more active. However, 9 out of 10 times we fall out of tune with our body’s needs, and misinterpret these signals for something else; or ignore them altogether. Any symptoms of insomnia, poor digestion, hormone imbalances, stress, sudden aches and pains, and fatigue that cannot be explained by illness or specific events; are usually your body’s cry for help.
The answer is, partaking in a few physical activities a week to take back control of your wellbeing. Now, we’re not saying you have to sign up to every class at your gym. With people wasting an average of £558million a year on unused gym memberships, we know that this ‘all or nothing’ approach very rarely works. Thus, we propose an alternative. Why not just go running? You may have tried and abandoned this idea in the past, but with our top tips, running could become your healthy go-to activity; restoring balance to your body and mind.
Studies show that running with a pet increases motivation and commitment.
So how do you start running with a difference? Well, it’s important to set yourself a goal to keep motivated. Phillippa Lally, a Health Psychology Researcher at University College London, concluded that it took an average of 66 days to build a new habit. This is a wonderful starting point. Give yourself 66 days to get into the therapeutic habit of running and stay motivated. This works best if you use a calendar to mark off the days as you go along. It is a visual reminder of your achievements, which is always a great morale booster.
On your first run, you may have the urge to push yourself to the limit and see how capable you are at running. Though, unless you have recently found out you are an equally gifted relative of Mo Farrah or Usain Bolt – DON’T! Remember, at this stage of your fitness life, the crucial element of your running is consistency. Start off small, and gradually build from there; as you will need to set a pace and distance that you can maintain and build upon over the next 66 days. As a guide, it is suggested that you should be able to maintain a conversation during your run. If your pace means that you can hardly get a word out, then you need to slow down. There is nothing to gain from pushing your body far beyond your comfort zone, because that is just another example of neglecting your body’s needs.
The type of running we are advocating, is one that forgets the treadmill, and embraces nature. Not only will running outdoors allow you to take in the scenery and fresh air, you generally expend more calories than running in a gym. In terms of mental wellbeing, whilst running outdoors, your brain associates the changing views and directions with freedom and exploration. This stimulates the release of endorphins, which lift your mood. However, it is important to stay mindful of the type of weather you are running in. Try not to run in extremely high humidity and heat. This makes it harder for the sweat to evaporate from your body, in order for you to cool down. To be on the safe side, it is worth investing in running garments that are loose, light and absorbent. As well as, scheduling to run before sunrise or just after sunset, when it is generally cooler.
Running can be done anywhere, at any time, in any location.
Stick to a very simple technique. For beginners, start with one minute of brisk walking and then one minute of jogging. This is to be repeated 10 to 15 times. Once you are ready to progress, you can trial completing a steady 20 to 30 minute run; always listening to your body and identifying any cues that you may need to stop or at least slow down. For those of you who have a weight loss goal, it is important to bear in mind that your calorie-burning potential will change over time. As your body becomes used to running, it will become more efficient in the activity. The good side is that it means you’re getting fitter. The down side is that you’re now burning fewer calories doing the same run. Despite this, it is very important to be completely comfortable with your current pace and distance, before you make variations; especially if your sole purpose for altering your routine is due to weight loss goals.
As our final tip, we want to remind you to stay hydrated and top up on those electrolytes! You lose electrolytes in your sweat, but instead of reaching for a sports drink, why not try a healthy electrolyte-filled alternative. Coconut, Watermelon, Aloe, and Cactus waters are all natural alternatives that have more than enough electrolytes to restore your body’s delicate balance.