With the stockings now empty, Christmas lights off, and the decorations put away until next year, you can’t help but feel the gloom of returning to normal life, with the pressure of deadlines and the inevitably crammed uni timetable. Your social media is flooded with new supplement and exercise recommendations; your friends are cutting sugar out of their diets; and stores are even beginning to stock their new swimwear and activewear lines.
The large influx of information can be intimidating and leave you with the fear of missing out or being left behind. You can feel pressured to have a pristine routine and a new year, new me attitude. There is a multitude of additions to your routine, life hacks and life – changing habits swamping you around this time of year. It can be difficult to know where to start. However, with the extensive promise of increased motivation and energy, it all seems quite enticing. But which habits are really life-changing?
This week, my aim was to try to go for a morning, pre-breakfast jog every single day for a week. It is recommended to do 150 minutes of exercise per week, ranging from moderate activity, i.e. dog walking and lawn mowing, to vigorous physical activity, i.e. running and tennis. The proposed benefits include:
Mood: Physical exercise before breakfast is known to reduce high blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and increase metabolism, thus improving mood.
Sleep: Physical exercise early on in the day may lead to a better night’s rest.
Health: Physical exercise is known to strengthen your immune system – which is particularly beneficial nowadays to reduce cold symptoms.
Mood: As someone who typically does around 20 minutes of brisk walking a day, this was a good way to ease into more rigorous exercise. Initially, as a first-time jogger, it was difficult to confidently join the other morning joggers, with their poised strides and proper athleisure. However, as the week progressed, so did my confidence. Immediately after each jog, I could
feel the endorphins providing feelings of satisfaction and bursts of energy. I couldn’t help but feel more productive and motivated to keep myself active, whether that be preparing breakfast, catching up on uni work, or simply doing some chores. Although this slowly wore off throughout the day, the boost of energy at the start of the day provided the motivation to do more work than I usually do.
Sleep: As the end of the day rolled around, I was sleepier than usual, but not fatigued or exhausted. My first sleep was good, but it just got better as the week went by. When I would get into bed, it would be easier to fall asleep; I would have a deeper sleep and so it would be easier to wake up in the morning.
Health: Although it is difficult to measure the effect of jogging on my health, I felt more inclined throughout the day to drink water and keep myself hydrated, which reportedly helps to deplete the body of toxins. In terms of physical health however, there weren’t many changes. If anything, I observed some slight aches in my ankles, but that was probably due to jumping straight into seven days of daily exercise.
For me, jogging means routine, and routine means productivity. There is definitely a feeling of accomplishment after each jog, which inevitably sets you up for the rest of the morning. While the sun is out, you feel replenished and motivated to do more, despite the fact that this wears off as the day goes on.
The greatest effect for me was on my sleeping schedule and quality of sleep and so overall, I would rate this experience quite highly and will definitely try to incorporate jogging, or some form of more intense activity, into my weekly routine. However, I would recommend easing into it and advance to longer and more frequent jogs.
Author: Ifra Mahmood