Normally any survey on British fitness levels just makes me want to hide under the duvet lest someone haul me out with a big hook saying, “See – living proof!” Now that I’m practically a regular jogger (ahem 20 times since 21 July and counting), I feel I’ve earned myself an indignant harrumph at the latest news from Professor Carol Propper at the University of Bristol that, excluding shopping, 8% of adults have not walked continuously for longer than five minutes in the last month. (http://ow.ly/nRau8)
My first question is, why exclude shopping? Staggering up the hill home with four carrier bags of spuds and washing powder counts as a workout to me. My second question is, seriously? How can you not walk for longer than five minutes a day let alone a month? Don’t people have dogs, jobs, friends, remote controls to lose? I can work up a five-minute yomp just looking for my keys – and often do. I bet I burnt off 200 calories in pure frustration that time I locked them in the bonnet of the car.
I suppose the idea of these surveys is literally to shock people into action, but the danger is that it may just encourage apathy and that all-too-familiar feeling of hopeless helplessness. Making people feel bad about not taking exercise doesn’t really change anything – like that old joke about how many shrinks does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: only one, but the light bulb has got to want to change – people will take exercise when something happens to make them feel that it’s more fun to move than it is to not move. For me it took sunshine, time, a change of environment and a total absence of anything else to worry about – and a pink pair of shorts I want to be able to wear in public one day.
For me opportunity and motivation (those gorgeous pink shorts) were the key – flimsy though they may seem. And the further you look the more you see. So, if you find yourself struggling to leave the armchair, take a minute to peak further afield. I was mightily inspired by finding a list of walks I could do for charity. I could pick a cause and a location and most of them are far enough away to enable anyone time to train. So go on, take a peak – and if you keep your computer upstairs, congratulations, you’re already a fifth of your way to your five-minute walk a month! (http://ow.ly/nQUYN)
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn