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Exercise fun? Seriously, yes

Healthy Food Guide fitness expert Sarah Cowley is full of ideas to get you active.

One of the best ways to stay motivated and keep your exercise mojo is to make it as enjoyable as possible. Here’s how.

Exercise, at times, is a necessary evil. On one hand, we absolutely know it’s good for us – when prescribed correctly – but, on the other hand, it can be really hard work.
The shaky legs, your heart jumping out of your chest, the feeling that you just can’t take another step – it is absolutely not everyone’s idea of a party. Learning how to push through those difficult times helps us appreciate the fun parts.

As an Olympic athlete, I’ve had to endure some pretty hideous training sessions in my time. Not fun at all. But the fun I take from them is getting through those hard sessions with my mates and having a real sense of satisfaction when we’ve finished for the day.

When we have enjoyable experiences, we’re more likely to do them again. While the enjoyment may not always be apparent at the time during exercise, there are ways to have fun through the pain.
Over the years, I’ve developed some tricks to up the fun stakes when I know I’ve got a horrible workout coming up that will be beneficial but not a leisurely walk in the park:

Workout as a group or head to an exercise class

There’s a real movement for group fitness and there’s a reason for that. Together is better, particularly
when you are huffing and puffing through exercise. Huff and puff together and cheer each other on.

Get outside

Being outside does wonders for the soul when exercising. Feel the sun on your face, the wind, hopefully, at your back and embrace the elements. Fresh air also helps when sucking in oxygen on a walk or a run.

Music is a mood lifter

I have some go-to tunes when I need to dig deep. So, whatever revs you up, get it on repeat if you have to and just move.

Bribery

When you get through those tough sessions, celebrate your tenacity. If you need to put a carrot in front of you as a motivational reward, do so. I would just avoid making the reward food related – unless it’s a green smoothie.

Side plank lifts with varation

Use this core exercise in your Kick-start fitness plan.

Side plank lift
1 Lie on your right side, with your legs stacked on top of each other and bent at approximately 90 degrees at your knee. Prop up on your right elbow, which should be directly under your right shoulder. Place your left hand on your hip for support.
2 Pushing down through your right arm, lift your pelvis off the floor. you should feel your right trunk muscles really working to maintain this position. Go within your range and, when you reach the top of your range, lower back down slowly.
3 Start in position 1, but with straight legs. Push through your right elbow and forearm to raise your pelvis up into a side plank. In this position, slightly draw in your belly button to your spine to switch on your lower abdominals. Keep width across your shoulders and your hips stacked on top of each other. Work within your own ranges and slowly lower down to return to the starting position. Repeat on your other side.
4 For an additional challenge, from slide plank position, raise your left (top) leg to approximately shoulder width apart from the bottom leg. Return left leg to right leg and lower pelvis back to the ground. Side plank lifts with variations
First published: Oct 2018



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