I loved this message on the inside of a swimming pool locker; 30 minutes of swimming to 'unwind your mind and give you a boost of energy too!' I don't swim very often, but when I do I love the way it makes my body feel, and yes, it does help my mind switch off too.
Swimming was always my first step back to exercise after having my children. It felt like a gentle way to get moving again, and it was also a fantastic way to get that little bit of time to myself, to clear my exhausted mind of all the endless chitter-chatter of daily life and new-motherhood.
30 minutes of movement is a great start. If that feels too much then try 15 minutes, or 7 minutes. I have been having conversations with a lot of busy women lately who are struggling to find the time to fit exercise in...it feels like something they 'have to' do, but don't have time for. It becomes another chore or drag on your time.
I do understand, I have been there in the past, in jobs that stretched 12 hours a day, or required extensive travel, I've juggled the commute, office job and parenting thing too. It's hard work to try and fit anything extra in.
There are ways that you can do it, although I'm afraid that only you may have the key to what works. I can give you some ideas that have worked for others and for me. The main thing is to work out what you enjoy and what makes your body feel good. Perhaps some of the suggestions in the following list would be helpful.
1. Sign up for a class with a friend. You're more likely to motivate yourself to keep going if you've got company and can share a lift and a laugh afterwards. Find a class that you really enjoy and motivates you (one of mine perhaps?!)
2. Find a personal trainer to work with you regularly, devise a tailored and effective plan and hold you accountable to your fitness goals. They should be able to prescribe you fitness throughout the week to keep you going too.
3. Sign up to a new challenge – a 5K race, a 1 mile swim, a cycling event or obstacle course.
4. Join a team – it could be netball, football, ultimate frisbee, it could even be a cross-fit gym where you get involved in competitions. It's the kind of exercise where you hardly even notice how hard you're working.
5. Use an app like the 7 minute workout – there are various ones out there that will remind you at the same time every day. You can find 7 minutes even if you can't find 30, right?
6. Make that run, or that class an unassailable date in your diary. Make it work. Make life revolve around you for 1 hour of the week!
7. Walk to appointments, to work or around the block. Walking and being outside are a great antidote to a busy life and an easy way to get moving.
Nowadays I use a good run for the 'me-time' and headspace that I need regularly. Mainly because it combines exercise AND being outside. Two of my favourite things. But….that sense of time to yourself is important.
Sometimes going to a class is out of the question – in part because it doesn't give you the mental space (unless perhaps it's yoga or pilates) and because there are others in the room with you. But also because it can feel like it takes too much time out of your busy and over tired day.
Keep trying, keep experimenting. You'll find something that works. It doesn't need to be hard.