We all know movement is a fundamental part of our daily routine for our health and wellbeing, but so often life throws us glitches and hitches that make it hard to stick to our exercise plans. Maybe we had a long day at work, or unexpected responsibilities got dumped on us, or maybe our back pain just decided to play up. Whatever the reason, we still need to give our body - and mind - that bit of wellbeing time that they deserve. Keep reading to discover how we can easily adapt and change our plans to squeeze some movement into those days that go totally unexpected.
Our day-to-day lives almost require us to be flexible and adapt to the unexpected in all sorts of circumstances, and our wellbeing routines are no exception. If we are committed to moving regularly everyday, being flexible must be part of our schedule. How many times has your gym class been cancelled, you feel a cold coming on or it starts pouring with rain out of nowhere? If we aren’t open and ready to change our plans, we would probably fail to meet our moving goals most days.
So how can we keep moving despite the unexpected changes or disruptions we can all experience?
Firstly, setting realistic goals towards exercise is essential for adapting to changing plans. It’s about including the unexpected into the plan, which most of us often forget when we are sitting on the sofa filling out our agenda with all those new exciting gym classes. We tend to make plans with a perfect scenario in mind: we don’t consider many setbacks, traffic jams, unexpected family needs or just feeling tired.
An empty block on our calendar doesn’t necessarily mean that that hour will always be fully available to us. A too strict schedule may just cause stress to us, which is the opposite effect we hope to get from an authentic wellbeing time with exercise. If we allow flexibility and the unexpected to be part of our original plans, it would be much easier for us to be open to change, as there is still room for it.
Secondly, being open to alternative ways to exercise is also essential when we have to adapt our plans. If we are gym lovers and it’s the only form of exercise we have explored, it could be tricky for us to adapt if we can’t make it to the gym, miss the class we booked or it’s closed for maintenance. And in that moment, we are more likely to just drop exercise for that day than find something else on the spot.
If we get ourselves used to trying different forms of physical activity instead, we have alternatives ready for when we need them. Perhaps invest in a yoga mat to use at home, or get an exergame (exercise-games) to play in the living room with the whole family. Or simply do a quick search for other options near you. These are perfect examples of alternatives to our cancelled gym class.
Thirdly, remember every little bit counts. Getting yourself in the mindset of daily movement means trying to insert some movement into your day even without formal exercise times. Taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking or cycling to work if you can, going for a lunchtime stroll or some stretching on your breaks, or even running about with the kids. Movement can become part of your routine, rather than being an extra commitment on your agenda, that might be difficult to follow regularly, and at least you can do something when the unexpected crops up.
Finally, motivation is the secret ingredient ultimately driving us to keep exercising despite everything else happening in our busy lives. So find a way to move that you really enjoy. If it isn’t something that we like, the smallest sign of interruption will be a great excuse for us to drop the plan to exercise and just sit on the sofa. If it is something we enjoy instead, we’ll try our best to stick to it, despite the difficulties.
Buddying-up with a friend, colleague or family member also helps us to do our best to stick with a planned exercise schedule. It’s easy to stand ourselves up, when everything else happening around us seems to be a greater priority than that 30 minute run that we hoped to do for ourselves. If we commit to an appointment with an exercise buddy instead, we’ll do our best to not stand them up, and we are more likely to rearrange our schedule to make sure we meet the commitment despite the hitches we face.
And if you struggle to find an exercise buddy, apps can be a great ally to motivate you to rearrange your plans to make sure you meet your exercise goals, by providing challenges with yourself or with other people. If you’re just about to meet your 30-days strike in a walking challenge, you’re more likely to keep going despite disruption so you can complete it. Without the challenge, you’d be likely to just give out movement for that day. Join one of our Movingwell Challenges here to motivate you.
Being able to adapt to changing circumstances in your daily routine to stick with some regular movement is helpful for your overall wellbeing, but remember, be kind with yourself. Failing to meet an exercise goal or cancelling your routine for a day is not the end of the world. Sometimes days are very busy, and sticking with some exercise can just be too challenging and cause more stress than benefits. If you didn’t manage to adapt for one day, don’t give up, you can get back on track soon. But if you repeatedly fall short in your movement goals, try to rethink your routine and make it easier to stick with, based on your needs.