The last six months have been hard. Life changed as we knew it. Yet amongst the doom and gloom, there have been some positives. One is the emphasis being put on exercise. Not only in being healthier and physically fitter, but in improving many other aspects of life.
If you were out and about running, walking or cycling during lockdown, you probably noticed the swelling ranks of fellow active livers. We can all count ourselves lucky we were able to go outside for our daily exercise hit… But what it highlighted was the important role physical activity and sports plays. There was no football, no team sports, no group social activity, no Olympics, but there was the great outdoors. And embracing the great outdoors, for many, was vital in getting through such an unprecedented time.
I needed exercise during lockdown. Period. Without it, I felt sluggish, unproductive, stressed and ‘stuck’. Most people I have spoken to have felt the same. So, if you think exercise is just about looking better, think again.
The benefits of exercise
Being at home during lockdown meant more time for exercise, but it also meant thinking outside of the box. Gyms were no longer an option, and group exercise wasn’t allowed, but virtual home workouts and running grew in popularity.
What’s better, the majority of people who stayed active during lockdown did so for reasons other than just getting into shape. For example, to lower levels of stress and anxiety, which during a global pandemic were obviously heightened, boost overall immunity, which is important to tackle any virus or disease, improve mental health, especially having been stuck inside most the time and cut off from social activity, and reduce boredom, which, again, is important for giving purpose and direction.
Exercise isn’t just about looking better. To some it is, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about mental strength and freedom, self-confidence, positivity and more. It’s about strengthening the mind and body to take on anything.
So, if you still want to exercise to look better. Great. But don’t be surprised by the other positive effects as well. Remember: Exercise is so much more than physical. And there is no such thing as bad exercise. The more active our nation is, the healthier it will be. And better overall health boosts productivity, fights against viruses, lowers obesity rates, improves the economy – the list goes on.
I believe we all have a duty to be as healthy as possible, both physically and mentally. Especially with tough times ahead. Balance is important, but exercise is a key part in achieving that.
Read our blog on the benefits of exercise on mental health and wellbeing.