Being Active Every Day with RED January

Jennifer SymeBlog, fitness, Therapies

January is a month where people often undertake a challenge. These month challenges seem to have replaced ‘New Year Resolutions’ and cover everything from not drinking alcohol, not eating meat, going vegan, and probably anything else people want to set a challenge for. In my Facebook groups I’ve seen a press-up challenge, one to do a daily yoga practise, and of course the one I’m talking about – RED January.

Fell better with Red January

These monthly challenges are a great way to get inspired, find support and perhaps try something new. You are more likely to stick to something longer term if you can keep at it for a month. That old ‘habits are built in 28 days’ (at least) idea. Studies have also shown that you are more likely to stick to a new habit if you have a buddy. Also having a group or a place to share both your wins and your not so good days helps motivation.

A Challenge Doesn’t Mean Pressure

The monthly challenges are often aimed at wellbeing. The goals are usually to lose weight, run a certain distance, or to cut out food or drink. Red January is a bit different as it isn’t saying you need to achieve a specific amount of anything. It’s aimed more at the mental health aspect of being active. Which means getting outside, and yes, challenging yourself a little bit, even if that is just to walk to the end of the garden. It’s linked to the mental health charity MIND, and there is an option to raise money for the charity. Again, no pressure to do that or to raise a certain amount.

Get fit with Red January

I decided to do it because the winter is a time when I definitely get affected by the dark mornings. It is harder to get motivated to stick to my usual morning start of running and yoga. A cosy bed and sleepy head make for long lies. I’m actually in favour of allowing ourselves to be more sleepy and ‘hibernate’ in the dark months. After all, it is natural, and winter is a time to take things slower. A time to rest and prepare for the better weather when we can be more active. But, modern life dictates that things carry on as normal. The trick is finding a balance between remaining active and looking after ourselves. Personally, I have learned not to beat myself up about being more sleepy at this time. Come March I will start to wake up easier as the mornings lighten. I do like to maintain my activities in the darker months, just perhaps not every day or necessarily first thing.

Last year I did a mountain biking fitness and skills course which ran weekly through January and February. It made those dark, cold winter weekends so much better. I discovered that I COULD get up early and dress in multiple layers of merino and MTB protection, and then cycle up and down hills, through mud and snow for 3 hours. And ENJOY it. It was actually the highlight of my year. I met some lovely, inspiring women as well as boosting my fitness and bike skills far more than I expected.

Varying Activities Helps Keep it Fun

So this year I was keen to do something similar. There was no Bike Fit this year, but – enter Red January. When I read about it I signed up immediately. I also told people in my running group that I was doing it and several of them joined in too, which is especially good as I have buddies in the real world as well as online. When you sign up you get the option to have a red t-shirt so it is great to see several other ‘redders’ at running group meetings. A month is a long time to stick to something, and illness and weather can get in the way, but that is why RED is good because you can mix things up.

Feel Better with Red January

So far this month I have done yoga most days, been running 1-2 times a week, tried Zwift – a cycling app with virtual rides round cities, and various workouts, and I started a Kickboxing class. The kickboxing is definitely outside my normal comfort zone, and my hips are far too tight, but everyone is very friendly, and it is great fun, in a hard work kind of way. I also plan to go to a swimming class and finally learn how to do the crawl properly. And yes, all this keeps my mood up, I haven’t used my SAD light at all, and I’m certainly sleeping better after all the activity!

There is talk in the various RED groups of continuing past January, and I certainyl intend to. The problem I have is fitting eveyrthing in!