HEALTHY RECREATION

It’s awesome that some of you are already into your first few weeks of exercising. It’s great that you’re starting to take good care of your bodies, watching what you eat and even looking after your personal hygiene. But after all the hard work has been done, out on the road, in the gym and in the kitchen, and even in the office, what then? It’s back to square one again, because a lot of you – those of you that have started to exercise and eat right – are heading straight back to square one.

Now, all of a sudden, you have nothing to do. You spend less time going out with your girlfriends for takeouts because you know it’s bad for you. But back at home, you still can’t resist that comfy couch and the remote is crying out to you; hellooo, I’m over here. That’s slothfulness, my friends, and that can put you back into a comatose state of mind in which you’re tempted to skip your next workout at the gym or head to the supermarket to buy a fresh tub of ice cream, just because you’re feeling hot and bothered and hungry.

So, let me repeat this once more, girls; laziness makes you stupid. If you really must watch TV, that’s ok. But do it this way. Set up that firm rubber mat I mentioned in an earlier post and place your stationary exercise bike on it. And then off you go. Enjoy the ride and enjoy the show. I’m not a big fan of treadmills, though. They’re just too big and clunky for the living room and they’re pretty expensive as well.

As far as I’m concerned, you’re still going to be better off doing healthy things, such as necessary daily exercise, the natural way. This means that you don’t need the aid of machines to help you get fit and stay that way. It’s also more sustainable (environmentally friendly) for you. No pollution was raised while you kicked dust on your favorite running track or hiking trail. Speaking of which, you can do so many other things besides to keep you out of boredom and maintain your interest in your necessary physical exercise.

The exercise experts and fans call this cross-training. What this means is that, however many times you can exercise in the week, or how many times you choose to exercise, without overdoing it, you are doing something different each and every time you turn to your exercise. Not only does it help to keep boredom away, doing the same old routine all the time, it also helps in the sense that you are giving different muscle groups a turn to be strengthened up.

For instance, you could be doing your indoor bike routine on a Sunday evening when your favorite prime time TV show or latest movie release comes up. For me personally I’d much rather relax watching my favorite shows. I usually reserve my Sundays for something more relaxing (I’m in good shape, so I can do these things now), adventurous and inspirational. It sets me up well for the rest of the week. On alternate Sunday mornings I go for a long run.

This run lasts for about two hours but it is never run at a hard pace. The only time I do pick up the tempo is when I’m training for a marathon. I try to do a marathon at least once a year. On other Sundays, I go hiking with my best friends, or go road cycling in the morning, when the road is still quiet and as far away from the urban city environment as possible. By the time Monday morning arrives I’m ready for my busy week.

But my Sunday adventure has also left me feeling a little jaded. So, Monday’s workout is an easy one, or it’s treated as a complete rest day. I do one easy circuit at the gym, only lifting light weights. But even on complete rest days, I’m doing something for my body. Before and after my shower, I’ll be doing some stretching exercises. During the course of my day, I’m walking instead of driving. But I’m conscious of my body’s rest and conditioning needs, so I go as gently as possible.

By the time Tuesday arrives, I’m ready for action. It’s hardcore weight training, not to be attempted if you’re starting out for the first time. Wednesday, it’s back to the road for me. I’ll be varying my pace – at a more advanced level than that walk, run, sprint exercise routine I told you about earlier. Thursday, I go for a longer run but at a gentle to medium pace. I do some weights during the day as well. By Friday, I’m ready for some conditioning exercises.

It’s a winding down routine. I might be up for a big event, come Saturday morning, a road race on foot or on wheels, but, unless I’m training for something special, like a marathon, I treat these events as part of my training. And all the way during the week, I’m really having fun. It’s essential to keep you strong mentally. I don’t believe in doing things that are not fun or cool. This may affect your physical and mental health in a negative way, particularly if your work week is a stressful one.

But what happens when you’re not exercising? We know that we must work, but we also need to keep our bodies and minds active during our off-work time. I vary this. One day, I’m busy at my desk with my laptop or on the couch with my books. The next day I’m busy in the garden, in the kitchen, or at the mall, doing things on my feet but in a way that is physically and mentally relaxing. Keep yourself physically and mentally active when you’re not working or exercising and you’ll make progress in getting into shape and staying that way.