How fit are you – really?

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How fit are you – really?

At 31, I felt old. Not in the ‘I wish I was 20 again’ or ‘life’s passing me by’ type of way; quite the contrary. But within my fitness levels, or more accurately lack of them. I would make an ‘ooooff!’ noise while getting up off the sofa, or be out of breath after a last-minute dash for the train. To put this in perspective, I am a size 8 and eat a very healthy diet. But recently when I forced myself to think about exactly how much exercise I do, the answer was a big, fat zero. I run my business from my office at home, so I don’t even walk to and from work. Tragic.

Fitness isn’t just about how you look, it’s essential to health and wellness, both now and in the future. Look after your body now and it will look after you. As Joseph Pilates said: “If at the age of 30 you’re stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you’re supple and strong then you are young.” I tell you all this so fellow exercise-phobes can take inspiration from the fact that I’m someone just like you. I’m not a fitness fanatic. I’m just an average person with a busy life who GOT MOVING. After my wake-up call, I knew I needed to do something, anything. So one morning I went for a jog around the local park. Within one minute I was worn-out and had to turn it into a brisk walk, but I kept on. Once I got my breath back I jogged the last distance back to the gate. It had only taken 10 minutes, so I wasn’t put off doing it again – not least because it put into perspective just how unfit I was.

So the next morning, I did the same. And the next. And each time, I jogged a little further, walked a little less, until eventually I was jogging the whole way round. Some days I really can’t be bothered, but I still do it. Because it’s only 10 minutes.
Since then, I’ve added in daily 10 minute weight lifts at my desk with dumbbells (instead of surfing the net at lunch), a weekly 2-hour countryside walk (on a Sunday when I’d usually be mindlessly watching TV) and joined a pilates class (from 6-7pm on a Friday – I still have the whole evening ahead of me afterwards).

There are always excuses – but there are always ways around them. The key is to JUST START. GET MOVING. Don’t worry about how fit other people are; compete with your own personal best instead, no matter how small the goal. Take solace in the fact that no matter how slow you take it, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.

Top tips:

  • Start small and increase your exercise slowly – you’re unlikely to commit to a 5 mile daily run in the first instance, but 10 minutes doing a manageable form of exercise each day is easily achievable.
  • There are many - free - fitness routines on YouTube that cater for all levels, which can be done at home when you find a spare 10/20/30 minutes.
  • Go for a walk in your local park/woods/countryside – grab your friend/husband/kids and make a day of it.
  • Sandwich exercise into your daily commute – walk the escalator instead of standing, get off your tube/bus a couple of stops early or park your car 10 minutes away from your office, and walk the rest.

Article by Jenni Retourné of Style with Substance. With a career in the beauty industry spanning almost a decade, Jenni has a huge interest in health and nutrition, believing that everything you eat has an effect both on the outside and inside.