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Find your spark!

After what we’ve been through it’s OK to feel differently, and as we enter a ‘new normal’ it is more important than ever to look after our physical and mental wellbeing.

This week, Sports Development Officer, Gianni Epifani, talks about the benefits of an active lifestyle and how being active every day is great for our bodies and minds.

Being more active can improve your mood and decrease feelings of stress, depression, loneliness and anxiety. It can also help you feel connected, improve focus, energy levels and help you sleep better.

At least once today, but more likely several times, we’ll be told via the front page of a glossy magazine, a social media update, a television show or a radio broadcast that we should exercise more, and that being more active will transform our lives. The reality is we probably know this already.

The challenge is finding the right steps for you to enjoy a more active lifestyle, so long-term exercise becomes an intrinsic part of your daily routine, and not just another wasted gym membership. 

Dealing with disappointment

At some point, we will all have had a negative experience. It might be being picked last for a team game at school, trying a circuit class that left every muscle in our body aching for weeks, feeling intimidated during our first visit to the gym and the list goes on. One of the first steps we must take is to draw a line under those negative experiences, remove our self-imposed barriers and move forward!

Finding your spark

We all have a spark to help remove our self-imposed barriers. A popular one is we don’t have time, it’s there we just don’t realise it and also cost, we’ll soon realise some of the best activities are free, and it’s when we start to feel the physical benefits and improved mental health the barriers soon start to disappear.

Getting started is hard but having long term ambitions, a strong motivation and realistic targets will help. These can be very personal and could include completing an Iron Man triathlon, walking a 5km route, joining a yoga class, playing golf, taking part in walking football and netball. The list is endless but again it’s important to remember not one glove fits all.

Increasing activity levels long term is the perfect way to improve our physical and mental wellbeing, but there are no guarantees and fun must be a key element. Finding a class, activity, exercise or sport you look forward to will ensure those negative experiences disappear. Also consider we won’t find our spark straight away but it’s definitely out there we just need to reach out and grab it.

Pace yourself  

Improving fitness, health and wellbeing is a marathon not a sprint, take little steps, don’t push too quickly and set achievable targets. The benefits will soon come including increased energy levels, more confidence and self-esteem. Increased activity rewards us with positive endorphins, opens doors, helps you make new friends and connect with social groups, and provides something to look forward to each day.

There will be set backs caused by illness, injury, over indulgent holidays and lots more - but having found your spark these will be swept aside. Finding your spark will make you happy, it will improve your physical health but more importantly it will give you a more positive and enjoyable outlook on life.