The Other 23 Hours...
Let's say that you exercise for an hour day. During this hour you might participate in an organised group fitness session, PT session, gym session or whatever your choice of exercise might be. During this hour you will probably be concentrating on good posture, good technique and connecting your mind and body in order to exercise safely and achieve optimum results. You may have an instructor watching over you and correcting you which is fantastic and highly recommended.
Essentially you are thinking about what you're doing while you're doing it and doing it well. Let's consider the other 23 hours in your day. Are you aware of your posture? Are you connecting your core and being MINDFUL of your body?
It's quite likely that your body may come undone during the rest of the day when you aren't focusing on it. I always tell my clients during and at the end of classes (particularly Pilates) to take their core with them and keep it engaged!! Try to transfer what we do in classes into real life situations. Move mindfully and connect the mind to the body and move safely.
Consider the following potential situations where it will be relatively easy for you to be conscious and mindful once you actually think about it.
- Sitting or standing in a train/bus - When standing think about lifting your chest up and keeping your shoulders back and down, and engage your core muscles and stand with equal weight through both feet. When sitting keep your shoulders wide (no hunching) and with equal weight through both buttocks, and two feet flat on the floor.
- At work or school - remember to get up and move often. Sit with good posture, drink plenty of water and stretch your hip flexors (front of your legs and hips) and your chest muscles regularly. Move your body as much as you can, as our bodies aren't meant to sit for long periods of time. Sitting too much can create a range of postural problems, which can result in pain and discomfort.
- Housework - If you're at home doing a number of different chores think about the one you're doing WHILE you're doing it. For example when picking up a full basket of wet clothes try to activate your core muscles. Squat properly and use your legs rather than your back to pick up the basket, keeping your shoulders down as you peg the clothes on the line. Making beds is another one where you really need to think about using your core and being in the correct position before lifting the corner of the mattress up to pop the sheet under. And vacuuming - well I think there should be specific instructions for vacuuming safely (so stay tuned for my future blog on 'vacuuming safely' and effectively for your body)
- Meditating - this doesn't have to be cross legged in the corner with incense and humming!! You just need to take a moment each day to get in touch with your breathing and relax. It's pretty much impossible to clear your mind so don't be too concerned about that goal. However, concentrate on breathing deeply into your belly making sure your body is completely comfortable. A great technique is putting your legs up the wall. Lie on your back with your bottom close to the wall and you place your legs up on the wall and lie back and breath. This is brilliant for relaxing but maybe not ideal for the office. You never know, your work might encourage this kind of practise if they understand how calming it is.
- Sleep - On average we spend a third of our lives in bed. With this in mind, it's really important to have the correct mattress and pillow for comfort and your body's wellbeing. Get advice from an expert who can recommend the right pillow for you depending on your sleeping position. Limit screen time and avoid lying in bed with your neck in a forward position while binge watching on Netflix. Our body recuperates and recovers during sleep, so get plenty of it so you wake up in the morning you feel well rested.
Consider your body and what's best for both your mind and body during your entire day and not just for the dedicated one hour you put aside to exercise. Remember the other 23 hours as this may lead to you feeling healthier and happier.