Woman Exercising Outside

Being in lockdown has meant a lot more people have a lot more free time.

You’d think exercising would be easier. It’s not. Stress and anxiety levels are high, which makes exercising less appealing.

Here’s what you can do starting today to boost your mood, lower stress levels and improve your physical and mental health one step at a time.

Woman Exercising Outside
Being in nature improves physical and mental well-being

Here’s the thing…

Trying to do some intensive, HIIT session is probably not the the best idea if you’re struggling to find the motivation to move or are feeling a bit down about life at the moment. That’s totally normal given the situation, by the way.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is, a stressful activity. It puts your body under a lot of strain, both physically and mentally. Remember that feeling of your muscles screaming at you to stop after the 100th burpee…? Yup, that’s stressful.

What to do instead

If you’re struggling to stick to any kind of more intensive exercise routine, the best way to keep moving is simply to walk. That’s all.

Studies have scientifically proven that movement improves your physical and mental health.

It’s believed that exercise, even at a low intensities, causes the limbic system to help regulate mood and motivation.

Couple walking dog in park

So, not only will you get a good workout, you’ll also boost your mood and motivation levels which could lead to more exercise in the very near future! That would be a result.

Isn’t walking too easy?

The key thing here is that we’re trying to reduce stress on our mind and body. Walking is easy for most, but still burns energy and more importantly has positive knock on effects throughout your body.

In fact, because walking is a low intensity exercise it means your body has time to use more fat as the fuel source.

The best way to do it

From personal experience, first thing in the morning is best. Get up, put your clothes on and get out.

Just a 30 minute walk will really set you up for the day. Try to find a local park or woodland to walk in, so you’re immersed in nature.

Get everyone involved

If you are living with friends, family or a partner get them out and about with you. Perhaps even find an activity to do which is outside.

Ever heard of ecotherapy? I hadn’t either. But it’s been shown to help relieve mild to moderate forms of depression.

It’s also fun to get outside and do things with kids, family and friends. Think about those Easter egg hunts you did as a kid.

Your next step…

Pun intended. I’d recommend trying to walk as much as you can. I go out every morning for 1 hour, before breakfast.

If it’s a sunny day, I go to the park via a coffee shop (not in lockdown…) and then do a large loop of the park.

If you think that’s too much, start off with 30 minutes every other day. Even 10 minutes 3 times a week is better than nothing.

You might find that once you start walking regularly, you feel more motivated to walk more.

It often has a snowball effect for people. A virtuous circle, which is the opposite of a viscous circle.

Be kind to yourself

Didn’t get out to walk but wanted to? Don’t worry, you can get out the same day or tomorrow.

There is no need to be too hard on yourself if you couldn’t get out to walk. There will be days when you want to and days when you don’t. It’s natural for there to be ups and downs.

Time to get started

So, now it’s time to take action. Get your shoes on and get out for a walk. Take note of how you feel afterwards and find time to fit it into your daily routine.

You may just find you feel, look and act more positively as a result.