Some of our habits can be so ingrained, we don’t realise we’re doing them. We just continue living them out without much effort or willpower.
This is good news when we wish to maintain healthy lifestyle habits long- term, without much mental effort. Unfortunately, this also follows with unhealthy lifestyle habits, like not exercising or eating too much of the wrong foods. We keep doing the same unhealthy things without much awareness.
Those unhealthy habits that are so easy to perpetuate, can then be so difficult to change.
The entrenched nature of some habits is one of the reasons it can be really challenging to create new healthy habits and begin a healthy lifestyle.
So, we need to find ways of challenging what we are doing and being open to look for something better.
Establishing good habits, as well as continued success, involves both learning and participation in healthy behaviours. It can take around 5-6 weeks, even longer to form a new habit.
To create new healthy habits we need to be mindful of a number of things:
- Set both short and long-term goals
- Write SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.)
- Set yourself up for success- good planning, doable small incremental steps, involve your friends
- Keep track of and reward yourself for your achievements
- Be kind to yourself during setbacks
The MaKE my health program delivers built-in strategies to help you cultivate the motivation required for new healthy exercise habits. You will learn a range of effective strategies to implement into your life, and create new exercise habits that will stand the test of time.
When it comes to creating new habits and beginning a healthier lifestyle, one aspect of exercise that’s often overlooked involves the Mind-Body Connection or Proprioception.
What is the Mind-Body Connection?
Proprioception is the ability for our mind and body to communicate, and understand where our body is in space.
This capacity is essential to engage in exercise, or any other activity we do during the day. The mind has the ability to connect with your body and recruit muscles to perform an exercise or movement.
Proprioception keeps track of and controls the different parts of the body.
For example, we’re able to move our hand when we wish to pick something up, with little effort. We think about picking up a glass and then, like magic, our hand is moving to do just that. That’s proprioception; our mind’s ability to employ the muscles of our body to act.
How does this affect healthy exercise habits?
For the most part, this system works really well and just happens naturally, without mental effort. Unfortunately, there are times when it doesn’t work so well. Incorrect exercise technique and form, as well as poor posture, contraction of muscles from prolonged stress, and long hours sitting, especially the forward bow of the neck using our devices, leads to the use of the wrong muscles.
Over time, the mind builds connections with muscles that haven’t been designed to perform the movements efficiently and effectively. The result being an injury, or not experiencing the results we’d like from our diligent efforts with exercise. For instance, people can report knee pain from doing lunges, minimal changes in their gluteal muscles from endless squats, or even lower back pain and no change in upper body strength from bent over rows.
Using mindful awareness in exercise.
The way around this is to bring mindful awareness to the appropriate muscles required for an exercise or movement. This involves being mindful of the muscles required to perform an exercise; a sense of feeling the correct muscles working. We need to make that mind-body connection with the right muscles for an exercise.
A great way of achieving this is with activation exercises; specific movements performed at the beginning of a workout.
These exercises “switch on” the muscles that need to work, and relax those muscles that aren’t designed for the movement. They retrain our mind to make connections with the appropriate muscles for the job at hand.
With activation, you are focusing on FEELING the right muscles working and establishing that mind-body connection (proprioception). Once you’ve got that mind-body thing happening, you’ll have better automatic recruitment.
When it comes to the workout, you’ll be using the right muscles for each move.
Over time, the risk of injury diminishes and you’ll get great results: to your fitness, muscle strength, tone and endurance. This does wonders for your motivation to keep exercising.
At MaKE my health, activation exercises form an integral part of the program.