Refresh Your Exercise Routine with Sam Charlton, nutritionist & Olympian


Restarting your exercise routine can seem like one of the more daunting habits to tackle after the holidays. Whilst some of us like to incorporate movement and adventure into our summer break, for many of us it is an important period of time we use to let our bodies rest and recover to prepare for the year ahead.

We know exercise has many benefits for both our body and mind. For a deeper insight as to how exercise can positively impact our mental health, check out our past blog post here from Dr Sophie Muir.

As an Olympic athlete, exercise, movement, routine and keeping fit has been a part of my life for the past ten years. Essentially, it’s part of my job to ensure that my body can withstand the demands of training. Whilst I am grateful I’m someone that does enjoy many elements of movement and exercise, I can certainly vouch for the fact I don’t wake up every day itching to sweat it out!

Here are a few of my top tips to refresh your routine and spark some joy and motivation in movement. Everyone is very different, so pick a few that you know relate to and your personal journey with movement.

Change your language

  • Exercise can seem like an intimidating word for many, provoking thoughts and images of heavy breathing and sore muscles. Whilst ‘huff and puff’ exercise certainly has its place, it isn’t the only way to look after your body! Try using the word ‘movement’ and you may be surprised at how you perceive it as less of a chore, and how many other activities you already engage with in your daily routine that contribute to your ‘movement’ goals.

Start small & often

  • Avoid trying to do everything all at once! Habits are more likely to stick if we create consistency around them. Start by introducing some gentle walking before work or during your lunch break. If you are wanting to get into running, start with a walk/run and build up your stamina. If we go too hard too early – we are likely to experience muscle soreness or even sustain an injury, which in the long run will likely deter us even more!

Try something new

  • Whilst running and lifting weights might be your thing, there are so many different ways to move our bodies! Think pilates, Zumba, yoga, HITT training, trail walking, tennis – the options are truly endless. A lot of places have free or discounted introductory trials so that you can give it a go with no strings attached. Make use of these offers and find something new that sparks joy to create a new routine.

Find a group or community

  • Having others to move with can provide motivation, inspiration, and keep you accountable when you need it. Many gyms and/or classes have a fantastic community feel, but if you are looking for something a little more budget friendly, check out your local community Facebook page. You may be surprised to learn that there are free classes available in your local park, or that there are regular walking or running groups around. Can’t find any? Start your own!

Support your training with good fuel & hydration

  • Plan and prepare snacks and fluids to support your daily movement to help your body and mind feel fresh and ready for action. If your chosen activity is moderate and less than 60 minutes, plenty of water and a carbohydrate rich snack like a banana will give you all of the support you need. If you are embarking on something a little longer and more demanding, ensure you are fueling with a good carbohydrate rich meal like our Summer Bircher Muesli and drinking lots of water. 

Sam is a registered nutritionist, one of our testers here in our development kitchen and has represented NZ at the Olympics in hockey. Studying Human Nutrition at Massey University, she has a passion for educating and sharing knowledge when it comes to food and nutrition. As an Olympic athlete, she has spent the better part of the last 10 years learning and understanding how to fuel her body to get the best out of it for her sport. Sam eats mostly vegetarian and plant based meals, and loves adding sauerkraut or peanut butter (sometimes together!) to almost anything. One of her most favourite cuisines is certainly Middle Eastern, followed very closely by Greek food.

Find out more about Fresh Start here.

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