1st May 2020

Culture / Featured / Hannah Williams

Reasons to Exercise That Will Keep You Motivated

1 10 mins 0

HHannah Williams is a personal trainer and exercise expert. She motivates and encourages others to move their bodies for a healthier and happier life. Here Hannah outlines 7 reasons to exercise, reasons that will get you moving and keep you moving. Hannah also helpfully gives her top tips for exercising at home.

Reasons to Exercise. 

Movement was once the product of a hard day’s work; hunting, ploughing the fields or working machinery. Exercise was a natural necessity in everyday life. However in the fast paced, hyper-efficient digital world that we inhabit, we’ve slowed our bodies down. We’ve been handed quick and easy replacements for our ordinary activities, resulting in us moving less. Exercise is no longer a subconscious activity, a consequence of going to work, feeding our family or getting from A to B. Exercise has become a chore, an activity we have to cram into our schedule and often an expensive service we pay for. With time and money working against us, we rely on motivation to successfully integrate exercise into our daily lives.

There are plenty of reasons why we should exercise, but which reasons keep us motivated? Which reasons provide us with the drive to exercise for a lifetime? The most important reasons don’t necessarily keep us active. Nor do the most enticing reasons keep us at it for longer than a few weeks or months. It’s the more abstract reasons that help us sustain a lasting routine. We can organise these reasons into three categories:

  • Red – the most important reasons.
  • Orange – the sexy ones.
  • And green – the reasons you’ll keep moving for life.

Exercise to stay healthy.

The red category – the scary science that should have us all exercising daily and saving us from developing chronic illness. We get taught from an early age that we need to move in order to stay healthy. Exercising regularly prevents us from developing major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Therefore, staying healthy comes top of the list of reasons why exercise is important. But these facts aren’t enough to keep us moving. The fear of having a stroke doesn’t make us run, and the threat of osteoporosis doesn’t make us lift weights.

The orange category is proven to be more effective. These are the most common reasons you’ll find people pacing the pavements, flexing on their yoga mats or lifting heavy dumbbells.

Exercise to lose weight.

With over half of the population classed as overweight or obese, weight loss is a legitimate and important reason to exercise. Beyond health, weight loss is driven by our vanity. Aesthetics come top of the list for many because building muscle and losing fat help us develop ‘toned’ bodies. Whether we’re striving to look ‘strong’ or ‘skinny’, our reflection in the mirror has a big impact on our class attendance or our visits to the climbing wall.

Exercise to get strong.

Strength training has an abundance of health benefits; stronger bones, muscle growth, better brain function, reducing stress – the list is endless. The gains are both functional and satisfying; when you struggle less carrying the shopping or lift your child with less pain. Strength training can have a powerful effect on our mental health, too. Lifting something you once deemed impossible is a rewarding and empowering experience. This exciting sense of achievement can drive a change in mindset and attitude. The psychological effects of strength training include greater confidence, improved self-esteem and better resilience.

Exercise to feel fitter.

Whether playing tennis, dancing the salsa or performing burpees, raising our heart rate and challenging our aerobic capacity improves our quality of life. The endorphins give you an instant hit and a spring in your step. As for daily life, running for the bus quicker, climbing the stairs without losing your breath and playing with kids in the park for longer are invaluable results!

Fat loss, fitness, strength and mental health – alone or together – are solid reasons to exercise. Despite their appeal and promise, most of us still struggle to sustain a daily exercise regime. We need more than looks, more than strength, we need intrinsic motivation.

The ‘green’ category is where the magic happens. These reasons lie a few layers deeper than that six-pack we dream about. They involve testing our mind as well as our body, subsequently developing both. These provide us with useful tools for our everyday life and these are the reasons exercise will become a part of your daily routine.

Exercise to learn.

Setting a skill-based goal adjusts our mindset, helping us focus less on the superficial benefits whilst keeping us motivated for longer. Whether you’re mastering your crow pose, improving your 5k pace or chasing that pull up, setting a goal will keep you going for longer. Your focus will slowly shift away from the numbers on the scales and your reflection in the mirror, but your drive will endure. Learning a new skill or improving your capability will require you to pay attention and focus, whilst practice will call on your discipline. Time spent learning will bring you calm and silence in a chaotic digital world. On a technical level, having a skill-based goal will have you working on what you ‘need’ to improve as opposed to what you ‘want’ to train. And while you strive for progress, you’ll find yourself practising your serve for longer than you’d be doing sit ups on the gym floor.

Exercise to challenge yourself.
A challenge doesn’t have to be gruelling and tortuous, so find one that allows you to overcome hurdles and celebrate success. Stepping out of your comfort zone may involve going to a group class, where you meet new people and become part of a community or trying something new in which you have no prior knowledge or ability. In the same way, adaptation is what makes our bodies stronger and fitter, it’s often nerves, excitement and a little struggle that allows us as humans to grow. Overcoming a challenge, physical or mental, big or small, can result in a great sense of achievement. These victories materialise through confidence and self-esteem and translate into practical skills, battling obstacles in the real world.

Exercise for pleasure.

Pleasure will give you the green light and the drive to put your foot on the pedal. On the surface, pleasure seems less important than exercising to decrease your chances of developing heart disease. However, it’s only by finding an activity that you enjoy that you’ll manage to maintain a regular regime and the consistency needed to reap the health benefits. When your motivation fades and your discipline fails, your retention relies on whether or not you enjoy doing it. Whether the highlight of your football practise is catching up with friends or the best part of your spinning class is the blaring music, find something that brings you joy.

Each reason is a good reason if it gets you through the gym doors, onto the hockey pitch or up that climbing wall. Yes, it may take a while to find something you enjoy, and there’s no doubt that you’ll get bored and go looking for a new form of exercise. But by chasing pleasure you’ll find longevity. Create a desire to exercise and fuel your commitment.

Top Tips for Working Out From Home (WoFH)

Space + Time
Although a lot of us are finding solace in exercise during this challenging time, it can be hard to get your slippers off and trainers on. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, put that time aside and include it in your daily schedule. Even if you’re tight on space, in the same way that a clear desk makes for a more productive space, try and clear the clutter and slide furniture out of the way.

The Tunes
Music is key! Take the time to find a playlist on Spotify to help you through the work. Whether it’s an energetic playlist for a HIIT session or something more chilled for a yoga flow, the tunes will keep you going.

Equipment (or lack there of)
If you don’t have any fitness equipment to hand you can make do with household objects. Use water, milk or wine bottles hand weights. Fill a rucksack full of books for weighted squats. Use a chair for elevated press ups and Bulgarian split squats. And find an old towel or some slippery socks for sliding pikes.

Stretch + Roll
If you’re pounding the pavement or smashing the HIIT classes on Instagram Live, make sure you spend time stretching, foam rolling and resting. When it comes to running or high-intensity workouts, mobility and strength work should not be ignored. Do some dynamic stretches and some activation drills beforehand and some more stretching after!

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Hannah Williams

Hannah is a personal trainer based in London, dedicated to teaching people how to move well and move more. Having spent 6 years working in the creative industry, her move into the fitness industry was driven by her personal discovery, of the power and benefits of exercise, both physically and mentally. Hannah follows a functional approach which prioritises longevity. Combining strength training, cardio and mobility work, to improve fitness, increase strength, and most importantly improve movement and well being outside the gym.

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