National Fitness Day – Turning over a leaf
Julie Denning, Managing Director, W2W
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to save up my major behaviour change for September. I don’t go in for New Years Resolutions, I never keep to them, and the pressure feels like it’s ‘on’. Everyone asking – have you kept to your resolution? It’s too much for me. Instead, I prefer to do my change quietly (or perhaps not so now I am writing this article!). September to me reminds me of starting school, a fresh start after the long holidays and a new beginning of a year. It seems perfectly timed to me, therefore, that National fitness Day should be in September, just as I am contemplating a shift in my behaviour.
Like many others, I took an uncharacteristic increase in activity levels during the lockdown. I took the opportunity to engage in exercise once a day to get out of the house and keep myself fit. I started to go on longer dog walks (he was delighted) and cycle trips (the children loved that) and later on in lockdown, I started running. By no means was this my Forest Gump moment, more it was me wanting to be less sedentary, to do something cheap and to have some time to myself (the dog nor children wanted to run).
My neighbour helpfully said that three loops of my street and the next one down was 5K. This newly acquired information spurred me on. I successfully ran three times a week for around 3.6 K – the final loop eluded me most of the time, for about seven weeks. I was proud of myself. I felt better and enjoyed seeing muscles last seen when I was 15 and a swimmer.
The thing is though when the going got tough, I threw in the towel. I couldn’t run in the heat; it drained me. Then we went on a family holiday, and my new running track (the narrow Devon lanes) seemed fraught with danger. Suddenly I had two significant obstacles in my way. They were barriers, and I stopped running. I know I’m not the first person to fall short of a personal exercise goal. I took time to reflect on this and asked myself the question, ‘What does being able to run mean to me? After a while, it occurred to me that running is not the outcome; it’s a pathway to something more significant. Once I knew this, suddenly, my focus shifted. What is important to me is that I want to be a fit 90-year-old who’s out and about and spritely (I’m a long term planner). Suddenly, the running itself was not so important, but the notion of exercise. I don’t have to be religiously running three times a week to achieve what is important to me.
Relieved of boundaries of running, I can mix it up a bit, I can walk my dog every morning, I can cycle the kids to and from school, I can squeeze in a YouTube Lazy Dancer ballet class (google it – it’s excellent) and I might even go on a run now and again. I know that by keeping generally active, I’m on my way to achieving my goal. So, people, on this, National Fitness Day, when you have decided that now is the time to turn the autumnal leaf over, think not about specific exercise, but what fitness means to you. Once you have worked this out, choose an activity or activities that, to quote Marie Condo, sparks joy, and get going.
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