Love Activity, Hate Exercise?

PE has a lot to answer for. If it brings to mind freezing changing rooms, cold muddy fields and the dreaded tackle from a more competent classmate then it’s likely you’re not alone in those thoughts. The inspiration that PE was meant to offer a future generation to be active and stay healthy is all too often sadly lacking.cycling-uk

Which thoughts does ‘exercise’ conjure up for you?

Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on UnsplashGetting more people more active is a massively important part of a Physiotherapist’s remit and to reflect this idea the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) have announced a ‘Love Activity, Hate Exercise?’ campaign. As the CSP haven’t yet released details regarding what the campaign will involve, I thought I’d nip in early with some suggestions. Because:

Exercise can = Activity which can = Something YOU enjoy


When jobs were predominantly manual, when kids climbed trees (more often) and the internal combustion engine was but a twinkle in its inventors’ eyes, physical activity was

A regular and normal part of life

tree_climbingWith modern day progress has come a requirement for us to go out of our way to achieve even slightly raised heartbeats, which is a shame at best and harmful at worst; it is after all, what our bodies are naturally designed to do and many of the health epidemics – obesity, back pain, diabetes, heart disease – sweeping the modern world can be directly linked in part to our modern reduction in physical activity.

Most people KNOW the facts and don’t need convincing that exercise will do them good. But directly opposing this knowledge are the often negative perceptions attached to exercise and the fact that many of the benefits – feeling better, living longer, being healthier – can seem abstract and indirect and don’t really cut it when faced with a comfy sofa, an unfinished box set or simply less effort expended.

Bear_ChasingPossibly we’re biologically programmed to not exert ourselves unless there’s an immediate, tangible reason to do so, then there are the biases and beliefs that we’ve acquired over a lifetime and any previous negative experiences of exercise – PE yes I’m talking about you – make skipping out of the door with a huge smile in place something that even the most enthusiastic gym can bunnies struggle to achieve.

But Remember…

…it may not be as involved as you think. Guidelines recommend:

150 mins/week of moderate aerobic activity or
75 mins/week of vigorous aerobic activity

That’s less than 30mins/day of ‘moderate’ activity. And what is moderate?

  • brisk walking
  • housework e.g. lawn-mowing, cleaning floors/windows
  • light bike riding 10-12mph
  • aqua aerobics

Moderate isn’t really that difficult to achieve and may well already be part of your day. And if not, with a little thought it probably could be. Walk instead of drive? Avoid the road-works and bike instead of drive? Windows need cleaning? ‘Vigorous’ activity requires a little more effort but make that a walk up a hill, ride the bike a little quicker or some serious garden action and you’re there.

So, if your default activity setting is ‘unwilling’, how can this be changed ?


Do Something YOU Enjoy, Experiment as Necessary

If you enjoy it your brain will:


the event as enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy it, bin it; don’t let negative associations getting a grip – you’re unlikely to stick it anyway – and save your precious time for something else.Photo by Alin Meceanu on Unsplash

Not sure what you enjoy? Then be a doer; make an effort, have a think and investigate – remember it doesn’t actually have to be something that hard to do or incorporate into your life and it certainly doesn’t have to be hockey/rugby/cross-country or whichever sport it was that put you off in the first place:

  • Curious of Dad’s archery/hobby as a kid?
  • Vague memory of having fun playing badminton/something else?
  • Always wanted a dog/to try power walking?
  • Does your friend keep going on about the boxing gym that she goes to?
  • Want an alternative way to see new things in new places?

I ride a bike to visit places I haven’t been before – the activity is a bonus side effect. And get imaginative – who’s considered Geocaching, Kung-Fu, dinghy sailing, ballet, volunteering with outdoor groups, skydiving, hockey, powerlifting, dancing…

We will all enjoy different things – find what works for you and own it.

Start Small = Last Long

If you haven’t broken into a jog since you were a slim, fit youngster then any past ‘10 miles before breakfast’ are likely to be an unrealistic target currently, leading to pain and injury if you manage even half that.nuntriathlete

Be realistic about what you think you can achieve injury-free and then reduce it slightly. If you’re not sure what you can manage then simply start very small and gradually bump up – miles, minutes, reps – from there. E.g. follow a ‘CouchTo5K’ plan to get into running, gently and realistically increasing your mileage and letting your body avoid overuse injuries by becoming gradually fitter and stronger.

Partner Up – Or Notrawpixel-com-395550-unsplash

Some people find that an activity is a great excuse to spend time with people whose company they enjoy, indeed the world is full of clubs to be joined, new people to meet and old friends who need an excuse to socialise – dance classes, sailing clubs, rambling groups, hockey teams and so many more. Or if memories of ‘team sports’ and group activities make your blood run cold then there are as many activities you can undertake on your own or with significantly less people – climbing, tai chi, cycling, walking, yoga, running…

Get Outdoors

Photo by Barrel On on UnsplashOften this is enough – dog walking, running, gardening, volunteer activities e.g balsam-bashing with the National Trust & rebuilding footpaths with local groups, exploring with kids/grandkids. Science will explain it with endorphins and vitamin D and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that green spaces boost our mental health – whatever the reasons, being outside is good for us.

You only have to prove it to YOU

kirill-zakharov-400459-unsplash1Do whatever activity floats YOUR boat and makes YOU feel better and happier overall – remember, a brisk walk to the shops/chasing the grandkids/gardening is likely enough. There IS some effort required to get organised, get out the door and partake but choose wisely and the overall effect will be a fitter, healthier and crucially HAPPIER you.

If you’re really struggling with motivation then consider where your mental health is at and if you think you need a helping hand, see your GP. There is no perfect way to train, no one size fits all; draw your own map and see where it takes you.


Physiotherapy can play a huge part in tackling your physical niggles and advising and helping you get healthier, fitter, stronger and consequently happier. I’m here if you need me!

Some Ideas:

What haven’t I thought of? Let me know!

Rossendale Valley Sailing Club
Small, friendly, low-cost club

Hebden Bridge gym
Wide range of classes including ballet, spinning, circuits & more

Yoga & Pilates classes


Wing Chun Kung Fu in Hebden Bridge

Calder Valley Fell Runners
Tod Harriers

Local personal trainers

Local walking group

Places to visit, things to see, activities to get involved in

All things cycling

West Yorkshire skydiving dropzone 

Gardening blog & inspiration

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Calder Physiotherapy & Massage
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Hebden Bridge
07981 931853

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