Fitness is something that’s always been part of my life – it was a massive part of my job as a footballer but I didn’t necessarily find it easy. I have to say it was born out of necessity rather than my desire to get fit.
My job needed me to be on top form so I trained hard to get myself in peak fitness. I’d often push myself to the extreme and would end up working myself too hard, but since I’ve retired from football I have found it extremely difficult to motivate myself and keep myself in good condition. I totally get how hard it can be. Thankfully my current job training pupils at St Joseph’s college forces me to keep active.
Keeping fit can be hard but I do recognise how important it is to look after your body. That also includes watching what you eat, combining a healthy diet with being active is so important for maintaining a healthy weight.
As a nation we’re currently 20% less active than we were back in the 1960s and, in fact, physical inactivity is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths in the UK. Not only that but 74,000 males in Norfolk are obese, many of these being aged 55-64. With only 1 in 4 men getting their five a day it looks like as a nation we’ve got some changes to make.
Physical activity is important but making sure you have a healthy balanced diet too will make such a difference to your energy levels. It’s much harder to go for a run when you’re packing in a bit of extra weight! Physical activity can help improve your mental health as well as your physical health.
Fitness isn’t just about going out and running a marathon. If you want to do that then that’s fantastic but it’s about simply moving more, making small changes to get you on the road to being more active. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week. Even a 10 minute brisk walk can count towards that – just enough to raise your heart rate and get you breathing a little harder. That doesn’t sound too hard really. You just need to take that initial step in getting started, whether it’s walking your dog at a faster pace or swapping the lift for the stairs.
Think about using technology too as it can really help – the Couch to 5k app promises to get you running within a few weeks, and the One You Active 10 app can help you walk your way to better health. Those fitness watches are pretty good too – fitbits can help you track your exercise and motivate you to do that little bit extra.
How about adding a fitness goal to your new year’s resolutions? I’d encourage everyone to use that bit of motivation in January to get yourself up and moving. I’m not talking about joining an expensive gym, but get yourself outside. Walking, gardening, and going for a run are all options and will still all count towards your weekly minute total.
When I retired from football due to injury I ended up getting a bike – with my injured knee going for a run wasn’t an option any more but cycling really helped. It’s easy to make excuses but I was determined not to be beaten and cycling regularly helped me to keep fit without putting pressure on my knee.
Once you’ve made fitness a habit it really can improve your energy levels, lift your mood and help you feel positive about yourself as well as giving you the chance to meet new people. Nobody’s going to force you to do it – it has to be down to you to take that first step to making that change and set yourself a goal. It’s often the hardest one but it could be a life changer.
I’d love to hear your story. Have you made changes to your life to improve your health or your fitness? Please do get in touch to tell us how you’ve turned around your health by improving your diet, fitness or mental health. We’ll share your story as part of our campaign.
For more information on fitness visit Get Active Your Way on the NHS website, or for an overall health check why not try the NHS How are You quiz below. You just need to answer a few questions and it will give you an overall health score, as well as loads of tips on how to make improvements.
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