New year new me? Sound familiar? I expect most people will set or have previously set ‘resolutions’ (they’re unlikely to have been goals) that will sound vaguely similar to this, but usually it’s with the aim of making ourselves smaller. To take up less space in the world. But how about we re-frame ‘new me’ , and revisit the role of exercise, sport and movement in our lives. What if there was a different, a greater purpose to setting aside that time. What if it impacted far more than a number on scale, or a point on a tape measure.
What if it made us feel better? Or improved our concentration? Or meant we slept better? Or encouraged us to make healthier choices? What if it encouraged us to like ourselves a little bit more, and we valued the time we spent on ourselves?
Mind reports that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year, and they are advocates of physical activity to help keep our minds healthy, as well as our bodies. It’s probably not news to you that endorphins make you feel better, and sport and exercise encourage your body to release them, so what are you waiting for!
Sport England has invested £8.2million in mental health projects and report wide-ranging benefits including:
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress
- Better self-esteem and
- Preventing and managing depression and anxiety as well as the physical benefits
- Preventing and/or managing medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes
- Reducing the risk of a range of medical conditions including cancer, dementia, strokes and heart disease
- Strength, balance and motor skills maintenance
- Improved sleep
- Increased energy levels
- Healthy development in early years
They run programmes to encourage people to be more active to improve their
Sport and exercise in my life
Sport and exercise have always played a role in my life, yet not always consistently. Looking back, I can now see that my lowest times were when I neglected it. When I didn’t value myself enough to make the time for it, then inevitably felt worse, yet unmotivated to start again. And it’s a vicious cycle that is a hard one to break. But, I’m pleased to say that regardless of what was happening, or how lost I felt, or how long my break was, with a little encouragement, I was able to return to sport. And I felt better. Achy (!), but better. I had more energy, I felt more interesting, and I re-connected with people.
That’s the power of sport for me. And there’s one other thing. It’s not something that ever happens in isolation. It’s really hard to motivate yourself out of a slump. Or to get moving again after an injury, or to start something new. And I always had someone else on the sidelines cheering me on, helping me take that first step. Sport is like that. It’s a collective. We’re all in it together, we can see the benefits and we want to share it so that others feel them too. And that’s invaluable for our physical and our mental health.
So if you’re in a slump, consider this your helping hand. I’m on your side. I’ll walk at lunchtime, I’ll hold your hand at your first (and second, and third!) gym class, I’ll pinch your arm after a particularly tough weights session (!), I’ll dive in with you. The important thing is to get started. One of my favourite phrases from Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign is “everyone’s a beginner at the beginning”. So let’s get started!
Yes, it might well stop you reaching for that biscuit at three o’clock and subsequently your jeans feel a little looser over time, but how refreshing to notice that as a an afterthought, rather than being defined by it.
Some useful links:
This Girl Can