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Guest blogger Annie Ross on ‘Exercise’

Posted 14th April 2016 by Josh Schouten

Exercise – remind me why we do it?

What with the combination of injury, sweat, commitment, time, exhaustion, pain, disappointment, self-doubt and hunger – sometimes I wonder why we put ourselves through it. The sacrifices we make to lift that little bit more, push that little bit harder and breath that little bit deeper are considerable. Are they worth it?

The psychology of exercise is a fascinating topic. It looks into why some love sport to the point of addiction, others flit in and out of habits, whilst others are repulsed by the very thought of it. There is certainly no one size fits all solution to the societal issue of physical inactivity.

Keeping our childhood fascination with movement would be the dream. Yet we’re urged to sit still, stay near, slow down and school sports are drifting from our children’s curriculum. That’s a topic for another day though. Even if exercise has never been your thing, it really is a case of better late than never. From walking and stair climbing to canoeing, there are lots of fun and cost effective ways to include movement in day-to-day activities. Help people you know find the fun.

A person’s relationship with exercise is not constant and our involvement waxes and wanes. At each stage of our lives a host of demands contend for our time. School, university, working, family, retirement and old age – with limited free time being the most common reason for underperforming against fitness goals.

Reengaging with exercise is possible. All that’s needed is awareness, desire, inspiration, decision, organisation and discipline. Easy right?! According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, “around a quarter of people in England are classed as inactive, failing to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes of activity (any physical activity, not just conventional sport) a week”. The Government and its partners are trying to get more people more active, more often. It’s a tricky one.

Making exercise appealing and accessible is a mammoth task as motivations vary widely from person to person. Having a social element, variety and convenience are qualities most likely to encourage new or rejuvenated participation. I would add that fun music goes a long way in keeping people hooked too!

Government can’t do it all though and grassroots movements are hugely valuable in increasing the outreach. Does anyone you know need a helping hand? Invite your friends, family or colleagues to join you for something active – keep trying suggestions until you find something they say yes to.

For health and happiness reasons, exercise should be a stable and sustainable part of everyone’s lives. A doctor was once asked if there would ever be a miracle drug for illnesses our society most fears: diabetes, cancer, depression, dementia and obesity. She said, there already is: keeping active.

Why should you exercise? Because you’re worth it.