Exercise and Endorphins
As a regular (three days a week) swimmer I was extremely pleased when my local pool reopened last month. Like many, I did my best to keep up with my exercise over lockdown and managed to cycle regularly. But the swimming left a hole. Which I did my best to fill with donuts!
So as soon as it was possible, I was very keen to dive back in (sorry!) to my previous – and quite rigorous – exercise regime. And the same can be said of many others if the number of exercise related injuries I’m seeing is anything to go by.
So, it seems timely to remind you about the need to be kind to yourselves. We’ve been through a lot this year. And it’s not over yet.
Here’s my top tips for exercising your way to the end of 2020:
- There’s been much talk of pivoting during this pandemic (mainly in relation to businesses I know). If you’ve had to pivot your usual exercising regime due to pool or gym closures – then please remember that a reasonable level of strength, ability or endurance in one discipline does not make you an all-rounder. Sports and activities put different requirements on your muscle groups. You WILL need to adjust your expectations of what success looks like. I’ve been treating a very keen and talented young swimmer who took up running when the pools closed. Unfortunately, she set her expectations too high (basing them around what she could achieve in the pool) and attacked this new discipline far too rigorously. The result – injury. Which may now also impact her return to swimming.
- We don’t know what’s to come in terms of restrictions or potential lockdowns and I’m seeing this lack of certainty manifest as anxiety and stress in my patients.
Perhaps we need to reframe our thinking around exercise and try something different? Or, for those of us with a little more time now we’re not commuting, something extra?
Could you fit in a yoga class? Extend that dog walk? Or organise a game of tennis – lots of local parks have courts that are easy and affordable to book.
The physical benefits of exercise are well documented but the positive impact it can have on our mental health is also significant.
- For those new to exercise -well done! Maybe you’ve started a walking or running programme or bought yourself a bike. Whatever method you choose – take it slowly. Especially if you haven’t exercised your muscles for a long time. There are many benefits to a slow and steady approach (both in terms of effort and frequency). You are more likely to stay committed if you don’t feel your new hobby is taking over your life. And less likely to injure yourself. Which would put you straight back to square one.
- A quick word about the exercising and the great outdoors. I know that we’re heading into Winter but don’t let that put you off togging up and heading out. As the Walker and Author, Alfred Wainwright, said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Outside exercise doesn’t need to mean running or cycling – a good long walk can be a very sociable option and for those lucky enough to have outside space – some vigorous gardening can really burn the calories.
- If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt this year, it’s how to interact online. There are thousands of online exercise classes available. And many experts offering virtual training sessions. Truly something for everyone. But just a quick word of warning about following online workouts where there’s no interaction with the instructor. Be mindful of form. Especially if you’re lifting weights. It’s easy to pick up injuries when weights are too heavy or lifted incorrectly. So, if you’re a beginner then a ‘live’ session, where the instructor can make sure you’re exercising safely is probably best.
If you are carrying a sports or exercise related injury then Osteopathy could help.