Celebrating, promoting and supporting our teams wellbeing and mental health is a key part of our People Promise, and sharing hints and tips with each other is just one of the things we do to keep our own business moving. Alice in our Legal team shares one of her tips on regular exercise, and we thought it worth sharing more widely that just within our business.
“I’m going to send you to do exercise every day as you’re happy when you exercise”, my husband said to me the other day (I had been to bootcamp that morning). After initially reflecting on what underlying connotations that statement might have, the statement did make me pause and think.
Does exercise make me happy? Am I happier because I do exercise? Do I feel better because I do exercise?
I think the answer to all these questions can only be a resounding yes! I’ll attempt to answer why in just a moment but before I do, let me put a little perspective on my relationship with exercise…. Over the years, I’ve gone to the gym, done exercise classes, HIIT, bootcamp, cycled, swam, burpee challenges, Zumba, military fitness, walked a full and a half marathon, amongst other things. I liked sport when I was younger and played various sports such as tennis and judo. But I’ll be honest, I have never had a burning desire to take part in the Tour de France or climb Everest; I just want to keep fit and be healthy.
So, the “why”?
- It’s good to keep moving
Just taking a step back, after a rather long lull in my exercise “career”, over the last 18 months or so, I have stepped it up a gear and started with HIIT training, 5 times a week, with a proper meal plan, then mixing it up with bootcamp twice a week and got back on the bike, to the point where I got a little obsessed. It was the perfect antidote for lockdown and the crazy year or so we have all had. Did I start because of lockdown? I’m not sure that was the only reason, but it was perhaps a catalyst for me starting… the “no more excuses” scenario.
I have really enjoyed getting moving, learning new things along the way, pushing boundaries, understanding the impact of exercise. I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had! But bottom line, it just felt good to do it. I usually do my exercise first thing and I feel it just sets me up for the day. My body feels better, more energised. The feeling of achievement (and, I’m not going to lie, relief in some cases!) after I have finished an exercise class is really empowering.
- My mental health has improved
Prior to ending my hiatus with exercise during the first lockdown, I was struggling a little. Lots going on with life in general and I don’t think, in hindsight, that I was coping particularly well.
Exercise has changed this for me. I feel that when I exercise, I focus on the exercise and give it my complete attention. It gives me an opportunity to clear my head of all the noise and gives me a “happy peppy” feeling. I feel more positive about things, calmer, more relaxed.
Ironically, the last few months have been more difficult, life has got in the way as they say, and the exercise has been less consistent, and I can feel that, both from a physical but importantly a mental perspective. I have really noticed a difference with the lack of exercise.
- It’s part of my “me-time”
As a parent, I have felt guilty too many times to count when I take time for myself, whether that be exercise or not, and as a result, didn’t really do it. I have come to realise that taking time for myself, including going to an exercise class, is important and I am a better person for it, at home and in life in general.
The other thing I like about exercise being me-time is that it doesn’t necessarily have to involve a device. I put my phone away and go for it!
- Being a “role model” for my children
My technique for doing press-ups or mountain climbers may be “à la Alice” but I take great pride in the fact that my eldest comes up to me sometimes and starts doing push-ups and when I ask what he’s doing, he says “I’m exercising like you Mummy”.
He sometimes also tells me “Daddy is stronger than you Mummy”. And I will respond saying I beg to differ as I can lift 20kgs’ worth of dumbbells without (too) much of a problem!
- Common ground
Since I joined Ultimate Finance in early March, one of my colleagues created a great little fitness community called the “Fitness Club” where people across the business post about their current challenges and achievements. It is great to read and does spur you on to take on your own challenge.
It is not about comparing yourself to others, it’s not a competition. It’s about motivating each other. There is a real camaraderie which has come out of taking part in the group. People are kind, people look out for you, send good wishes or a congratulatory note. It makes a big difference and is testament to how friendly and welcoming the Ultimate Finance team have been and continue to be.
So, if you are finding yourself in an exercise lull or you are waiting to start and need a reason, just think of all the benefits associated with doing exercise. Be inspired! Pick a sport, exercise class, whatever you fancy. And last but not least, be kind to yourself! We can often be our own worst enemies.
If anyone has any ideas for a challenge, I’m looking for ideas for my next one… so get in touch!