If anyone knows about the trials and tribulations to achieve the perfect ‘work-life balance’ it’s me; I am in my mid-twenties, fresh out of university into my first job and only starting to discover that serious prioritising is in order to find a delicate balance between my career and a healthy body and spirit. Unfortunately, there is no magic overnight formula that I can impart, but without sounding like a cliché, one of the best ways to achieve a healthy body and spirit is through regular exercise. Regular exercise reaps rewards like no other; it reduces the risk of major diseases, boosts self-esteem, improves mood, improves sleep quality and reduces the risk of stress which has never been more pertinent as in the present climate. Here are my ten tips for getting and staying active:
1. Start using that dusty squash racquet again!
As a British sports enthusiast, I am in awe of James Willsthrop. Willstrop is our number-one squash player and unsurprisingly extols the benefits of squash for both mental and physical health. Squash requires stamina and muscle strength due to its fast pace; for this reason, post-shower towel warmers won’t be necessary as the body will be well warmed already!
2. They don’t call it “fighting weight” for nothing you know: get into boxing!
Ever since watching Million Dollar Baby and The Fighter, I have been inspired by Hilary Swank and Mark Wahlberg to incorporate boxing into my workout. I’ve started to use Wahlberg’s boxing routine as a standard with my gym workout. As with a boxer in a fight, Wahlberg does his boxing in three-minute stints. These short bursts of exercise can focus on different elements, working up to a whole body workout.
3. Work yourself into a ‘fever pitch’: try football!
Football (or soccer, as it is known overseas) is without a doubt, the national game of my homeland. As a lifelong Liverpool fan, I have always known football is a great spectator sport but have recently discovered it is even more fun if you start playing it yourself. Ever wondered how famous players such as Gareth Bale stays in such great shape? Well, the fitness manager at Spurs recommends short sprints, upper-body work in the gym and squats and other leg exercises for building strength. Complement this gym workout with pitch time and this constitutes an amazing routine.
4. Nourish your body and soul: sign up for a triathlon!
For those who relish a challenge, a triathlon might be just the thing and for me, this is my ultimate goal. I am inspired by a veteran of many ironman triathlons: David Tilbury Smith. He fits in training in his lunchtime, with high-intensity swimming one day, the bike the next day and the treadmill the day after that. As a result, training can be varied and effective even in relatively short bursts.
5. Dig out your running shoes!
Running is a perennially popular activity and the success of athletes such as Paula Radcliffe has encouraged interest in long-distance running. 10 kilometres is considered to be a great distance to try as it is a good stepping stone for those aiming for longer distances but also works as a challenge for those used to shorter distances.
6. Strengthen your workout game, set and match!
Andy Murray has seen his fitness improve significantly over the last couple of years thanks to his cardio and strength work. It’s great to enjoy tennis just for its own sake but coupling tennis with some other exercises will really enhance your fitness. You may not quite be ready for a five-hour match, but it will definitely improve your stamina.
7. Nurture your inner water-baby; it’s safe to go back into the water!
Thanks to the performances of Rebecca Adlington and her Team GB teammates, I was inspired to get back into the pool and start swimming again. Swimming is an excellent way to keep fit; it gives you a cardio workout that is low impact and gentle on the joints.
8. Get yourself into the scrum: try rugby!
With the Six Nations rugby tournament and the recent World Cup dominating British sporting television schedules, I was inspired to try a little bit of rugby. The England squad focuses on being both strong and fast in the course of their training; running in weighted vests and using weights to improve both upper-body and leg strength are just some of the things the squad do away from the rugby field.
9. Circuit training is an untapped resource for capping an all-round workout!
Cross-training or circuit training can provide brilliant workouts and I discovered that these classes were freely available in my local gym. No two sessions are the same and variety is definitely the key. Using weights, floor work and gymnastics among others in one session flexes all kinds of muscles and improves coordination and stamina – and you have the added bonus of gym partners and instructors.
10. Use your downtime effectively and do some spring cleaning!
In my downtime from the office and the gym, I like to use housework as a great way to keep fit. The more you move, the better you’ll feel, so there’s no excuse if you really have no time for the gym. Think of yourself as your own personal trainer, devise workouts based on chores and no only will you stay active, your house will stay clean!