Get 'em all involved.
I hope this finds you well and not overly-stressed from the onset of the holiday season!!
I have just returned from a lovely little jaunt to the Florida Gulf which proved to be more necessary than I could have predicted. I believe this was my first trip to Florida in December, and though we had a bit of inclement weather, it was awesome to be in shorts and bathing suits (IN DECEMBER!) and to not have to deal with the crowds that accompany the summer months.
There was a lot of downtime on this trip, and I truly believe that it's good for the soul to be a little bored sometimes. On previous trips, I might have made a point of getting up early to log a few miles before the rest of my travel companions awoke, but with an infant who has a still-somewhat-erratic sleep schedule, the scheduling of this is nearly impossible. So, I didn't. I didn't even bother trying to squeeze in a run because frankly, my body needed the two extra hours of sleep I got after his 5 a.m. wake ups.
One of the biggest changes in my life since Ollie's arrival is that I now have to think in terms of "we," rather than me. I cannot lie; this was very challenging in the beginning. I would literally forget that I couldn't schedule/do certain things because it meant that either Ollie would have to come with me, or stay with daddy (which meant that Steve couldn't reliably count on being able to work during that time). Because Steve and I are both self-employed, we have the beauty of not needing to rely on daycare. Like, at all. In fact, Ollie has been babysat exactly twice, each time only for a few hours, since he arrived on this planet. Yes; this is awesome that we are able to spend so much time with him (and honestly, I truly cannot imagine dropping him off at a daycare- and that's just me- I totally support each family's way of living their lives!) but also, it basically means that we have
had virtually NO alone time. (We are working on this). Anyways...
Though I didn't get in any solid workout sessions on this trip, we did, all four of us (Steve, my stepdaughter, Ollie, and myself), go on a really beautiful long hike through mangroves and palm trees to a largely deserted beach located at the end of the Key we were staying on. And it was an awesome experience; we got to chat about about all sorts of things; the size of the cacti we passed, the utter coolness of my stepdaughter's new purple-tipped hair, and the probability of alligators hiding in the foliage we were traversing through. (There weren't. We don't think.) And aside from all of this riveting conversation, we also engaged in a very healthy group experience, which is beneficial in ways that a solo run or hike would not be.
In grad school, I spent a lot of time researching group dynamics, especially as it pertains to health and exercise. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, there is also the emotional benefit of exercising with others. When two or more people are engaged in a health-boosting activity, the positive emotions flow alongside the endorphins, creating an overall positive experience for the participants. And guess what that means? You are more likely to repeat the experience. This, of course, helps to create an ongoing fitness habit; not only because you enjoy it, but also because agreeing to share a workout with someone keeps you (and them) accountable, meaning that you are less likely to abandon your fitness plans.
So. If you find yourself growing bored of your solo workouts, or if you want to (gently) encourage a loved one to get active, try organizing a group fitness experience. And in our exceedingly busy times, it's a great way to kill two birds with one stone: you can reconnect with friends and family while also getting fit.
Do you like the group fitness experience? Drop me a line and tell me how you're connecting with others over a workout.