If you’re anything like me, you’ve been so busy that you haven’t really thought about what gift you’d have liked this year (and nobody’s actually asked you either). Then it occurred to me that I don’t particularly need anything, although of course there are many things I’d be delighted to be given. But after a few tough challenges this year, staying healthy, fit and able to do the things I love doing, would probably be top of my list for 2013. Because one lesson I’ve learnt through training others, is that when your health’s gone or gone wrong, you realise how precious being able to lead an active ‘exercise-filled’ life really is.
2012 has certainly had some ups and downs and difficulties, but it’s also had some fantastic moments, lots of laughs and a few major achievements. But at this time of year it can feel like all that matters is how much cash it takes to make things happen. Yet all we actually need is the strength, ability, and good health to be able to do the things that are important to us and others in our life.
If you’re at all like my friends and family, we’re far better people after we exercise! The children seem more alert, less likely to argue, and my partner’s even willing to chat after a long run. I also feel empowered through exercise. Today was no exception, with end of year deadlines, planning, gearing up the diary for January fitness regimes, I felt the need to get out there and do something physical myself. So although it was raining, I delivered cards by mountain bike to get in some heart raising cardio alongside what had to be done in limited time. One hour and 20 cards later, I’d achieved my delivery goal, worked off the mince pie enjoyed earlier and came home feeling energised and rosy-cheeked. It was wet, cold and dull, but it was also quite exhilarating, challenging, and at times even quite enjoyable as the cards and their messages somehow meant more than if I’d posted, emailed them or texted! But most importantly I felt the tension departing, as I carried out my little challenge and cleared my muddled thoughts.
It’s often such a catch 22 on the exercise and health front. If you over-train, you may pick up injuries, if you’re feeling exhausted, then doing exercise isn’t exactly enticing. In mid-winter we’re often tired, bugs are rife and getting ill is more than likely as our resistance levels are usually low. Plus many are lacking in Vitamin C which helps fend off the bad things. Sometimes exercising can make a cough or cold worse, but, the fitter you are, the easier you’re able to fight back if hit by winter viruses, which is why it’s so important to try and keep fit all year round. And remember summer bodies are created during winter!
Last night I took my last Military Fitness class before Christmas. A festive 12 Days of Christmas high intensity workout in the mud, rain and dark. We even sang a bit in between the reps (at the start any way!). Afterwards we chatted about why we came out to exercise, rather than open a bottle of wine in front of the TV. The people and teamwork was the driving force for most turning up, but the overall benefits of being there also featured.
Clinician Dr Nick Cavill stated: “If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented.” Together with the feel good factors, it’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity can enjoy the following:
- up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
- up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
- a 30% lower risk of early death
- up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
- up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
- a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
- up to a 30% lower risk of depression
- up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
So if somebody asks you what you’d like at this time of year: How about some running kit, gym membership, perhaps a bike or a new pair of trainers. Maybe even take-up a new sport or ask for a babysitting fund so you can get out for your fitness regime? And if you’re looking for some recovery time after Christmas (which I know I am) then look out for half price spa days/weekends or even the odd pamper session to perk you up ready for spring. The good news is that exercise is free, it’s just the joining a class, club or a group that costs money, but you don’t need to pay a thing if you can find the willpower to go it alone…….
There are now so many amazing events and activities out there to sign up for, there really is something for everyone. And if the Paralympians can do what they do, it proves that anyone can grab a pair of trainers and do something. So, if your household is similar to mine and you realise that Santa (or possibly your partner) probably didn’t deliver the presents you were after this year, be thankful you’ve hopefully got your health, and you can therefore do something about what you’d really like, or like to be like next year!
Happy Christmas and New Year, and (as long as you have a plan for exercising it off)….. here’s to enjoying everything that comes or doesn’t come your way!