There are many barriers as to why people are not active; I have spent many years as a running coach trying to break down these barriers so that people can learn to love the feeling of moving.
The word “Sport” can conjure up absolute fear in people, a throwback from maybe a harsh PE teacher, an idea that we’re not “sporty” enough, the humilation of being last or letting the team down.
But being active isn’t about being good at sport or extreme activities, it’s about moving, just plain and simple moving the body. You don’t even have to be good at moving, no one is watching with score cards once you’ve finished to give you a score out of 10; we are our own worse enemy by living our lives in constant fear of being found out, of being exposed as not being good enough, but by whose standards?
We know that by being active it has a huge amount of physical and psychological benefits as is widely reported but what happens if you just can’t get out of the front door due to anxiety and depression. Starting something new, especially later on in life is a big deal and anxiety levels can go off the scale just at the thought of doing something that you may already think you are not very good at. People can even experience feelings of low self-worth for not trying something that is deemed to make them feel better.
I receive a lot of emails from people saying they won’t start running until they’ve lost some weight or can run 5k already. The perception is that we need to be really good at being active before we even start or we just shouldn’t do it.
In my experience there seems to be a message that until you have the body of someone who is active then you can’t start being active, talk about Catch 22!
Learning to start being active, like learning how to run and sticking to it is hard, we live in a world of instant gratification, where we want to get results quickly, lose weight quickly, smash our 5k time quickly.
Sometimes we need to just slow down, breathe and work with the body we’ve got right now. Having even a small shift in attitude towards starting something new like running and learning to appreciate not only the physical benefits but also the impact on our mental health. Looking after our mental health is just as important as our physical health, learning to self-care and be kind to ourselves can only be a good thing.
You don’t have to look a special way to start being active, you don’t need the right gear before you can head out of the door for a walk and I promise you no-one will jump out of the bush with score cards telling you that you weren’t good enough.