Updated: Feb 26
It's frustrating when you can't find your workout mojo, but perhaps even more so when you actually want to exercise but time or circumstances stop you. Typical!
Whether you're working multiple jobs, have a busy family life or are feeling under the weather, there will always be times where you can't exercise as much as you'd have liked (or at all for that matter!). So, rather than beating yourself up when the inevitable happens, it's best to be prepared with some other healthy ways of looking after your body.
Without getting too hung up on 'which vitamins do what', I find the best rule of thumb is to eat a little cleaner and healthier than usual when you're unable to exercise.
When our bodies are sedentary for several days at a time, we typically require less energy than before, but we seldom reduce our calorie intake. And, as our bodies store excess energy as fat, it's important that we pay closer attention to what we're eating.
Food is fuel after all, so it also makes sense that if you're not eating enough vitamins and minerals, your body has less 'good stuff' available with which to repair itself. This is a key consideration for fighting off illnesses or if you're injured. On days (or weeks) like these, I like to ditch the processed foods and dial back the refined sugar, instead opting for leafy greens, whole grains and a good protein source.
Although I said not to get too hung up on the vitamins, it is worth knowing that vitamins B6 and C are great for boosting your immune system. Vitamin B6 can be found in dark leafy greens, chickpeas and cold-water fish like salmon, while Vitamin C is high in bell peppers, oranges and spinach.
Drink. Your. Water. It's a reminder that nearly all of us could benefit from. But it's even more important to stay hydrated when you're not working out.
When we exercise, our heart rates often rise, pumping lots of lovely fresh blood and oxygen to our organs (don't forget those wonderful endorphins) and removing waste chemicals. This is why people often say their head feels clearer and their bodies more awake after exercising.
If you're struggling to get the recommended 8 glasses per day, I've found it really helps to either keep a water bottle with me, track how many glasses I've drunk throughout the day or set a reminder on my phone every few hours to 'drink your water!'.
I struggle with this one, but rest really can help when it comes to looking after your body. Physically, if you're injured, it gives you time to repair. Mentally, it gives you time to reflect, collect your thoughts and be kind to yourself.
If you're not working out due to a lack of time, I sometimes spend my 'chill time' looking at my diary over the coming weeks and seeing where I can schedule in some time to move my body. If it's in your calendar, it should be more of a priority.
If illness or injury keep you from exercising, know that it's ok to take this time off and you'll likely be back at it soon. If your journey back to full health is taking a little longer, look at ways you can modify your workouts to ease you back in. Remember that your strength and stamina will likely have decreased and that's ok! Bodyweight exercises are a gentle way to ease yourself back in, especially ones that don't raise your heart rate.
I hope you find those tips helpful when you need them most. Upon writing this, I'm week 6 into my Covid recovery and haven't worked out in 7 weeks. Nutrition, hydration and rest have been key for my recovery to feel as well as I could in the circumstances.