We all know that leading an active lifestyle is good for us, we know it’s good for us physically and mentally (all the evidence proves this) and we know that when we actually do it, we feel great (well, after we’ve done it at least!)
So why do we have so many negative associations where doing exercise is concerned? For many people they were put off at school, made to feel foolish for not being good enough, always at the back or ridiculed for being unable to catch a ball properly; maybe you were ‘that’ person, standing alone, the last one to be selected for a team game or made to feel self-conscious in a PE kit that didn’t actually fit your body-shape or maybe you were poorly coached by teachers who didn’t actually have the specific knowledge for the discipline they were teaching that day (this didn’t happen to me btw, thank you Mrs Kennedy for being so inspiring!) Those formative years were the opportunity to lay down the foundations of a positive relationship with exercise, yet for many, the experience has left them with a loathing of all things exercise-related and a deep rooted belief that they’re ‘not good enough’ to take part in exercise.
Despite the fact that the evidence presented to us proves that exercising IS good for our bodies and minds, society often still uses negative language around exercise. How many of you have talked to friends or popped a post on social media about exercise and people have commented saying things like “You’re mad you are! Why on earth are you doing that? Have you lost your mind? You’d never catch me doing that!” leaving you to feel you have to justify why it is you’re exercising, why it is you’ve chosen to make a positive, healthy lifestyle choice, like you’re having to apologise for it. If you turned the tables and asked ‘Why do you choose to get pissed; why do you eat so much crap food; why do you choose to lead an unhealthy life-style?” I’m sure you’d be accused of being rude or offensive, being told “It’s their choice” and indeed it is, just as it’s your choice to exercise; we shouldn’t need to validate it.
It’s so frustrating as these barriers to exercise can be enough to stop people starting on a journey which can not only enhance their lives but of those around them too. There are so many reasons why exercising is a positive, whatever stage of your life, it is never too late to start and reap the rewards. Within my running group I have men and women in their 50’s and 60’s who have embarked on a C2-5k journey and beyond and not only has their physical well-being improved but their confidence has shot through the roof too! As a coach, this is so rewarding; seeing the self belief flourish.
At The Olney Way To Run (my running group) I believe the key to sustaining longevity where exercise is concerned is finding something you enjoy, doing it with a group of people who support you led by coaches who ‘get’ your reasons for exercise.
I know that not everyone loves every session; I know that you will sometimes dread the thought of training; I know that lives are busy and that creative avoidance is a powerful weapon in your armoury! I know all of this because I feel it too, I understand that arriving at any session may have taken an enormous amount of energy, so I encourage my group to be kind to themselves and celebrate every step (quite literally when they’re running!)
I believe you can find your ‘thing’ and make exercise an enjoyable, sustainable part of your life, you just need to find the right group of people to support you, people you don’t need to justify your reasons for exercising to.