Tag Archives: Motivation

How to improve your mental wellbeing through fitness and exercise

Limitations live only in our minds.  But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. – Jamie Paolinetti

Maintaining our mental wellbeing is one of the most important aspects which helps contribute toward a healthy fulfilled life, there are an endless variety of ways you can ensure you are taking care of yourself mentally and fitness and exercise are some of the most effective methods. It is clear the benefits that exercise has on our physical body, but people often don’t realise the great positive effects that maintaining exercise also has on the mind! Exercise has in fact be proven to be so great for the mind that those who suffer from challenging mental health battles such as depression and anxiety have felt an improvement mentally, the effects of the illnesses can be eased due to the positive influence that fitness has on the mind and the raise of serotonin that it creates within the mind. The most challenging step can be motivation, but if you can motivate yourself to persist through the first steps of your fitness journey then you can change the way you live your life through the power of exercise.

Not yet aware of how exercises and fitness methods can improve and maintain your mental health? Let’s take a look at some of the best exercises to help get you on your journey to feeling the best version of yourself!

Running

 

 

 

 

Running is one of the best forms of exercise you can do due to its endless benefits, it is one of the most beneficial forms of cardio. Running is so easily accessible to all who wish to try it, however if you prefer not to run outdoors you can opt to run using a treadmill which can be just as effective! its all about your personal preference, the exercise is also open to all ages from the younger generations to the elderly who wish to take up a new hobby or continue their running habits. Running  can also be enjoyed at all different levels and paces to suit your fitness level and age range, the key to running is enjoyment and the incredible health benefits to the mind and body are a bonus.

Still not convinced that running and exercise can help improve your mental wellbeing to a great extent? Check out the video below!

If you’re not sure if running is for you then not to worry, there’s a much more laid back method of fitness you can try!

Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga is an extremely well known term, nevertheless many people do not actually realise how astounding yoga can be for not only improving your physical health but also your mental health. Yoga has allot of stigma surrounding it as many see it as simply a socialising opportunity, however yoga is one of the best exercises for increasing your body strength.  There are many different types of yoga poses so your choice is endless, there is something for everyone which makes yoga so enjoyable and appealing. As we are focusing on the topic of mental health, listed below are some the most prominent yoga benefits that can help improve and maintain your frame of mind and overall mental health situation.

Watch the video below to see just how effective yoga is at improving mental health and wellbeing!

If you’re still not sure whether yoga is right for you and it doesn’t seem like something you want to try, you can take a look at another effective exercise method listed below.

Resistance Training

 

 

 

 

 

Resistance training can be so gripping due to the vast variety of exercises it contains, you are simply not limited to one form of exercise for example if you don’t find lifting weights is a good choice for you then you can try kettlebells or powerbands instead to strengthen your body. Anyone of any age can also enjoy resistance training, just like running and yoga there is no age barrier that blocks you from enjoying and partaking in the exercises due to their being options for everyone’s body strengths and age preference.  Maintaining muscle strength is particularly important as we age and ensures we stay as healthy as possible physical wise, however resistance training is also brilliant at helping our mental wellbeing

In order to see a clearer picture of how effective resistance training can be for your mental wellbeing, watch the video below which shows how simple a form of resistance training can be incorporated into your life. The video also shows that not all forms of resistance training have to be more challenging to begin with for those of you who want to take a less intense approach!

 

It is important to remember that just like physical health, mental health progress also takes time and it is not one short easy road. With that being said, remind yourself that the journey to improvement and change is taking the first step. Through exercise and fitness of your physical body you can also help improve and ensure that your mental wellbeing is also taken care of,  the hope is that this blog gives you some encouragement of just how incredible exercise can be in helping transform, ease and manage your mental health so you can get the absolute best out of your life.

 

 

Staying Healthy And Motivated As A Student On A Budget: The Basics

As a student, it can be difficult to get into a healthy exercise routine and even more difficult without the proper funds. Personally, I have used money as an excuse in the past for not being able to get into a regular fitness routine.

There have been many times a friend of mine has asked if I wanted to get a gym membership with them and I am faced with the same conflicting feelings. From a money standpoint it can be great value for money if you can afford it. However for me, as much as I would have loved to join the gym in the past, the commitment for me was always too big financially. And I am sure lots of other students feel the same. Besides let’s face it, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy without needing to invest large sums of money.

Budgeting as a student can be hard – but it’s not an excuse to stay unfit!

Staying fit and active during the last year became one of the biggest challenges for me. With the lack of structure and schedule in my days I started looking for new ways to motivate myself and create some sort of consistent and regular exercise routine to maintain my fitness levels. As a student, it’s important to have alternative ways of staying fit on a small budget, without the need for a gym or much physical equipment.  So lets explore some of the basics!

A Fresh Morning Walk

Free, easy and calming. One of the things I have come to appreciate most is a crisp morning walk. The hardest part of the day for me is the morning. Yes, I know, such a stereotypical student. But lots of people struggle with mornings and for good reason. Getting out of bed and starting a productive day can be daunting at first and the effects of the pandemic have made it harder for some.

Not everyone is a morning person

I have found that the quicker you get yourself up and active, the better. I got into the routine everyday or every other day of waking up, having a quick shower and heading out the door to get some fresh morning air. Living through the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, you really come to appreciate being in large open spaces like parks and the feeling of nature around you.

Scenic and natural environments are best to explore on your walks and jogs

Doing exercise in the morning has many benefits such as making you feel more awake and energized. As well as improving your internal mood it can spark productivity and help with motivation to complete tasks. These are certainly the effects I found, helping me get more done in my day as well as improving my outlook on the days work. If you’re ambitious and well prepared, turn this morning walk into a morning jog. The benefits will be enhanced and you’ll start noticing a difference in the way you feel throughout the day.

A Morning Stretch

In addition to a morning walk, to get your muscles ready and moving before you head out, try doing some light stretches or yoga positions. Nowadays we live in such a digitized world, a lot of students and young adults find themselves hunched over screens all day, attending online seminars or online work calls. All this use of technology can be difficult on your lower back, neck and eyes as well as other areas of your body for long periods of time. It is important to stretch on a regular basis to help improve posture, increase range of motion and also in some cases, help reduce and manage stress. The free act of stretching your limbs and body can have massive benefits on the rest of your day.

By taking the time and listening to your body, you can start stretching away tensions held up in your joints and muscles. Even just a 5 -10 minutes stretch will improve how your body feels, helping you to feel more relaxed and mobile. Take a look through this article to get an idea of how simple a daily stretching session can be.

Whilst there are plenty of stretches and yoga positions that can be done completely for free without additional equipment, if you’re doing floor stretches I would recommend investing in a yoga mat to make the experience more comfortable and prevent possible injury. What’s also great is as well as doing basic tension relieving stretches on the mat, it can also be used in more intense workouts and toning exercises if you choose to do so.

Download a Fitness App

Another great tip for young people looking to stay healthy and motivated on a budget is to download a free fitness app on your phone. Wearable tech is gaining a lot of interest these days, although it’s definitely not the cheapest way to track your health. Whilst a wearable tech more accurately tracks your movement and activity, free fitness apps on the app store are still a great way to manually input and track your fitness data. This way you can keep up to date with all the progress you’re making!

Find the right app for you to track your health and fitness goals

A great side effect to using a fitness tracking app is that it can be used as a source of motivation to continue with your new routines. Personally for me, hitting my daily steps goal and tracking other factors such as my mood and sleeping patterns, really helped me to get myself into a better daily schedule and more importantly, stick to them! My days felt more productive and it was all documented on this app for me to review. If you are someone who struggles with motivation I would definitely recommend checking out what apps out there would best suit your needs.

Some apps focus more on certain fitness routines such as muscle building

There are plenty of apps on the market, finding the right one can be tricky. It all depends on what your fitness goals are. Some apps let you input really detailed logs about diet, different exercises, heart rate, blood pressure, the list goes on! Don’t be overwhelmed by this though. Just stick to the fitness and health areas that you want to focus on. Soon you will appreciate being able to track your long term goals overtime, whether that is just getting into healthier habits or really going for weight loss and muscle gain goals, there is an app for you.

Staying healthy and motivated as a student can be hard, but by trying to integrate some of the activities discussed here, you might find it’s easier than you think!

Tips for exercising at home easily that you should know

Kettlebell 

When you want to build up your muscles and stamina, tone your body and lose weight at the same time. There are some tips you should know !One of the best equipment’s to start with are Kettlebells.  There are varieties of exercising with a Kettlebell available, which you can try out. You will find below five of the easiest to begin with.

1.Kettlebell Slingshot

The slingshot is a very easy type of Kettlebell exercise, where you pass the Kettlebell around the body from one hand to the other. The benefit of slingshot is that you will adapt to the Kettlebell weight and involves working out the shoulder, core, and grip. It is important to keep the head and hip steady and still while passing the Kettlebell around the body. Once you get use to it this exercise it will be useful to catch the breath between other exercise or for a warm up before the main work out. To watch a video of the Kettlebell slingshot can be click here.

How to practice: To start , do 10 repetitions one way and then 10 repetitions in the other direction. Afterwards increase to 20 reps each way.

2.Kettlebell Halo

 The Kettlebell Halo exercise is another easy exercise for beginners to try. To do the exercise you have to lift the Kettlebell closely around your head in one direction and then switched into the other direction of your neck. It is important to keep the Kettlebell during the exercise close to the neck as possible and swing around the head in a slow motion. The benefit of this doing this exercise is to strengthen your connection with your mind- muscle. As this needs the full attention involving your shoulder, triceps, back and core to move the heavy weight round your head. Doing this leads to full focused, increased intensity and the effectiveness of the whole upper body which ensures the best results. As mentioned earlier with slingshot exercise, the halo can be used as a part of a warmup exercise or as a less intense exercise between other workouts. For an example of how to complete the exercise watch here.

How to practice: To begin with the exercise do 5 reps in one direction and switch and do 5 reps in the other direction.

3. Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift

The Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift exercise is one of the most effective exercise beginners can do. To start,  the weight should be lifted up using a movement pattern known as the hip hinge. It is crucial to keep your back flat as possible otherwise your back could be left damaged. Your bottom does most of the weightlifting. The benefit of this exercise is that it I useful for the entire body. By not wearing a footwear it will help the movement and will be easier to activate the muscle. Maintaining the weight on the back of the foot guarantees the best outcome. Follow  video of Kettlebell single arm deadlift by clicking here.

 How to practice: To start with this exercise you should do 5 reps with one hand and 5 reps with the other hand gradually.  Afterwards you can increase it to 15 reps either side to receive the best outcome.

4. Kettlebell Good Morning

By doing the Kettlebell Good Morning exercise, the stress within the majority of body muscles will be reduced overall when positioning the Kettlebell lower. It is advisable to work out doing this exercising before more challenging exercise such deadlifts. To begin with the exercise, make sure your hold the Kettlebell behind your back with both hands balanced, also the arms must be kept straight and shoulders lent to the back. Next step is that you make sure that your feet are slightly apart with your knees kept straight and leaning forward at your hip level. Afterwards bringing the top half of  your body as far as possible but also making sure your spine is straight. Follow the video of the Kettlebell Good Morning  exercise by pressing here.

How to Practice: To begin with the exercise you could do 5 reps to train your breathing when you lean forward. Afterwards build up to 10 reps.

5.Kettlebell Goblets Squats

 The Final exercise beginners should know , when working out with Kettlebells is known as the goblet squat. The main benefit of this exercise is  to strengthen the movement pattern of the barbell back squat as you lift the Kettlebell up to the chin level the  same way goblet would held. It is a heavy exercise  if you want to perfect your technique of doing heavier compound lifts and avoid back injury it is advisable to practice squats in advanced before taking heavy weights. The main purpose of the exercise is to burn fat due to the increased reps. The hips become more flexible due to the squats , also the strength of lower body will improved. Similar to the original squat position the only difference is that you hold a weight with both hand under your chin. To Watch a video about the Kettlebell Goblets Squats click on the link. 

 How to practice: To start with this exercise you need to practice some squats safely and than add the Kettlebell and do 20 reps. Afterwards increased it gradually.

How exercising improves our mental health

Did you know that doing exercise not only improves our mental health but also our sleeping habits? Research has found that exercise lifts your mood to help to reduce depression, anxiety and the stress level of a human which leads to feeling better overall within our self’s. By regularly exercising its motivates you to your mindset, which automatically improves your well being. Your happiness levels are increased which leads to sleeping better feeling more well rested and have more positive thoughts in general about yourself. Exercising is a natural remedy to maintain a good mental health. So therefore it is important to keep exercising not physically  but also mentally.

According to a study conducted by MIND revealed that 94 per cent said outdoor activities including running and walking had benefited their mental health.

 

 

 

 

 

Using Progressive Overload to Improve Fitness and Wellbeing, and How to Implement it in Home Workouts.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, home workouts have been paramount in providing a sense of normality, routine and enjoyment. Home workouts have become a new trend, flourishing amongst social media platforms and providing people with a way to occupy their increased free time due to the furlough scheme, or working or studying from home. Creating fitness and well-being goals have provided a healthy distraction during these seemingly never ending national lockdowns. Progressive Overload can be applied to training regimes to help people improve health and fitness by gradually increasing the demand on the body and muscles.

The Principles of Training acronym, referred to as ‘SPORID’, is a great way for people to both stay on track with their fitness regime and allow them to achieve their goals, potentially including mental wellbeing, improve toning, improve strength or overall physique. The components are: Specificity, Progressive Overload, Rest and Recovery, and Individual Differences.

Progressive Overload and Motivation

Progressive overload is a pivotal component in enhancing health and fitness and involves the continuous increase of difficulty or demand on the muscles by increasing the duration, weight or repetitions involved within the fitness program. This is an important factor in maintaining dedication and motivation to continue exercising, especially during the monotonous days during national lockdowns. Therefore, despite gyms closing, it is important to be able to apply progressive overload amongst home workouts to firstly achieve the desired outcome, but also remain committed to exercising. There are mental and physical benefits to exercising, suggested by the NHS, which are especially important during the difficult times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In relation to motivation, progressive overload is important to ensure the participant doesn’t plateau in their performance or improvements. Witnessing the improvements in fitness can instil motivation because repetitive exercises can be avoided and interesting variations can be included in the regime.  Seeing the results acts as a driver for further change until the desired outcome is reached…whatever that may be!

Progressive Overload at Home

To effectively achieve progressive overload, the principles of Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type (“FITT”) must be implemented within the workout. It may be ideal to include a combination of these principles, or select one aspect and focus on this in the training regime.

Frequency‘ relates to the amount of times you perform the exercise or routine each week. Increasing the ‘intensity‘ refers to gradually moving from a form of an exercise, to a more difficult form. The ‘time‘ component refers to increasing the duration which you perform that exercise/ routine for, or could refer to the reduction in ‘rest time.’ Finally, ‘type‘ means the sort of activity which you are performing within the regime.

Progressive overload can be included in training regimes at home, and even without the gym equipment. The shutting of gyms and the national lockdowns increased the demand for home gym equipment. This demand could not be met by all manufacturers, meaning variations for at home workouts are important for keeping them exciting, new and effective.

Progressive Overload Demonstrations

The following videos demonstrate a simple workout plan for 3 different, at home exercises, requiring just minimal space. Each exercise has 3 different variations to offer examples on how to use progressive overload to change the ‘type’ of exercise. The range of exercises vary significantly, providing suitable alternatives to accommodate your needs, perhaps dependant on your age or ability.

Squats offer an option for lower body work, press ups concentrate on the upper body, and burpees offer a cardio option for your fitness plan. However, a limited  variety of equipment, such as dumbbells, resistance bands and exercise balls can increase both the intensity and alter the type of exercise, thus recruiting a wider variety of muscles, improving overall fitness, and helping achieve goals and targets. This equipment is accessible by clicking here.

With hopes of national lockdowns being eased over the year of2021, and gyms reopening, a fourth variation of the exercises has been demonstrated to show how these can be further progressed with gym equipment.

Squats:

  1. Air Squats:

Coaching points:

  • Chest and head upright, do not bend forwards.
  • Knees shoulder width apart.
  • Knees remain slightly outwards for all squats.
  • Squeeze gluteus muscles when upright.

2. Squat Pulses:

Coaching points:

  • Deep squat, 90 degree angle, squat 2 inches up and down.

3. Squat Jumps:

Coaching points:

  • Land softly on the balls of your feet.
  • Use your arms to generate more power and jump higher.

4. Weighted Squat Press:

Coaching points:

  • Keeping chest tall, hold weight at chest height.
  • Add overhead press. Push weight up, do not lock elbows out.

Press ups:

  1. Knee press ups:

Coaching points:

  • Arms directly under shoulders.
  • Soft elbows, do not lock elbows out.
  • Chest to elbow height.
  • Elbows out to develop chest muscles or in to develop tricep muscles.
  • Bring knees closer to make the exercise easier.
  • Engage the core to protect your back for all press ups.

2. Full press ups:

Coaching points:

  • On toes, full length press up.
  • Keep body straight from shoulders to ankles.

3. Elevated Press Ups:

Coaching points:

  • Use a platform (e.g. a chair) to raise feet.

4. Weighted Press Ups:

Coaching points:

  • Wearing a weighted vest/ weight on back, perform a standard full press up.
  • Get somebody to help put the weight on your back.
  • Put the weight in the centre of your shoulders.
  • Engage the core to ensure the back is straight and protected.

Burpees:

  1. Staggered burpees:

Coaching points:

  • Squat – step into plank – squat – stand.
  • Engage the core to keep balance and protect your back.
  • Pause in the plank position to ensure your hips or back don’t drop.
  • Start slowly until comfortable with the technique.

2. Jumping burpees:

Coaching points:

  • Squat – jump into plank –  jump to squat – jump upwards.
  • Keep back straight when in plank position.

3. Tuck knee burpees:

Coaching points:

  • Tuck and jump, knees to chest, use arms to generate more power and height.
  • Landing on the balls of your feet.
  • Optional progression: incorporate press up when in plank position.

4. Weighted Burpees:

Coaching points:

  • Overhead press the dumbbells/ weight plate.

Safety Considerations

There are various safety implications which must be considered when applying progressive overload. It is vital that you adopt the correct technique. Maybe practice the exercises involved for 2-3 weeks before applying progressive overload.

Also, you must focus on being “progressive” in order to avoid overtraining. Increasing the frequency, intensity, time or type individually could reduce your susceptibility to injury and allow the body to cope gradual increased demand.

Finally, rest and recovery must be prioritised within any exercise programmes – it is during this period that the body actually adapts its shape and form. Read more about the importance of recovery by clicking here.