Exercise Tips, 2018 Edition: Do what you like and be opportunistic

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My 7km running route around Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

I used to hate exercising when I was younger, but managed to get into a place where I run or swim outdoors 3-5 times a week and generally enjoy it. Here’s what I found helps:

  • Try to exercise every day rather than just 3-4 times a week. You won’t (and shouldn’t!) exercise every day since things will come up, but ideally you’ll end up exercise most days.
  • I work from home now, but when I lived in London I would always try to combine my commute home with a run to save time and money. This is more practical in some locations than others, but the principal holds.
  • Do whatever kind of exercise you like. It’s more important that you do something rather than nothing.
  • Be opportunistic, especially if you live in a place with changeable weather. It usually doesn’t rain all day. When it comes to running, if you can get used to running in the rain – which may require some special clothes – you’ll be able to work out more regularly. Some of my most memorable runs were in the pouring rain in Hampstead Heath, when I gave a comradely nod to the sole dog-walker out there as I passed him.
  • Don’t obsess about statistics and calories. It’s not an exact science. Again, something is better than nothing.
  • Good shoes matter for running. Nothing else does, other than some kind of sweat-wicking T-shirt. It’s worth going to a dedicated running shoe store to get some advice; many of them have treadmills and cameras to analyse your gait.
  • The Apple Watch is surprisingly good at run tracking. Its other exercise features are mixed; I like the daily stand reminders and the 30 minute activity ring, but “Daily Coaching” notifications are infuriating bad and, frankly, dangerous. You can turn them off by opening the Watch app on your phone, then going to Activity > Daily Coaching.
  • Don’t overdo it. Pushing yourself too far is counterproductive. The only times I’ve really hurt myself while running with sprained ankles or falls was when I was tired or on the brink of illness and went for a run anyway because I “had” to.

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