OPINION: We all know what the experts say. Exercise about 30 minutes a day and it will solve all your problems.
You will be fitter, stronger, have better mental health and live longer.
Those of us sitting all day at our desk jobs need it even more. High sitting has been linked with everything from cancer and obesity to heart disease and diabetes and even depression.
However a study published last month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that 20 to 40 minutes of daily moderate intensity exercise drastically reduced these risks.
But how many of us actually manage to exercise daily?
Before my first child was born three years ago, I used to run and do yoga regularly. But after an emergency C-section birth it took me a while to recover physically.
Then life with a baby kept me busy, and busier yet when I returned to work. I have never regained previous levels of fitness and developed a persistent lower back pain. Now 25 weeks pregnant with my second child, I feel like my body is falling apart.
Because of pain in my lower back and pelvis, I can’t go on long walks – let alone run – and can’t do yoga anymore. Those are the only forms of exercise I enjoy and until a couple of weeks ago, I could not muster the time and energy to put in place a suitable exercise regime.
However the lack of movement was starting to affect my mental health, so I tackled the problem head-on during a break from work over Easter.
I saw a physio who recommended I go to the pool a couple of times a week and try an antenatal pilates class.
I absolutely hate the pool. The water is cold, children splash you in the face and the chlorine dries out my skin. But in my condition, it really is a good form of exercise as it takes the extra weight away. I popped on a floating belt, jumped in the slow lane and started aqua jogging. I felt comforted by the other people sharing the lane with me, who weren’t there to show off or perform but to move their body in a way that did not hurt it.
After 30 minutes in the water, I was still cold but I felt energised. The pilates class made me feel stronger and more in control over my body.
It was difficult and costly to put these new activities in place, but worth it. A couple of weeks in, I have more energy, my pelvic and back pain has reduced, and I feel happier. I am not exercising 30 minutes every single day yet, but at least I am doing something.
We all have reasons to put off exercising. And when the only forms of exercise possible are not appealing, it’s even harder to get onto it.
But if, like me, you feel like it could help you, then do it. Find something you can do at your level and do it.