Making a healthy habit out of exercise
This week's Apple a Day looks at the importance of maintaining exercise and taking lunch breaks.
Following on from last week’s blog, it seems appropriate to consider how New Year’s resolutions around exercise regimes could actually be maintained throughout the year, and how to approach them. Numerous pieces of research have focussed on adherence to resolutions on exercise and have shown that this tends to fade by the end of January/early February. In research by UCL, it was shown that it takes around 66 days to form a habit. This would mean that it would take roughly 9.5 weeks for exercise to become a seemingly routine part of everyday life. Is this really achievable for relatively inactive people?
Perhaps the motivation to stick to our exercise regimes this year could come from Sport England’s “This Girl Can” campaign, which launched last week. It has already topped this week’s “Campaign Viral Chart” and garnered 3,838,014 million views on YouTube. The campaign aims to inspire women to want to exercise and ignore any feelings of judgement.
However, is there more that we can be doing from a health communications perspective to encourage maintained levels of exercise? In two recent articles by the BMJ, researchers argued that the current messaging and guidelines around exercise should be changed. Whilst one article argues that people who live relatively inactive lives should make small increases in their activity, another suggests that doctors should be altering their advice on exercise depending on which patients they are talking to. It seems to make logical sense that we increase our exercise levels slowly rather than setting ourselves unachievable goals.
In line with this, an article in the New York Times this week focussed on new research which has shown that taking three thirty minute lunch time walks per week can improve mood and aerobic fitness. However, the study was met with feedback from a number of participants who said that after the experiment they may be unable to continue with the walks due to work pressures. This increasing trend has also been picked up by Stylist Magazine, who is encouraging people to “reclaim their lunch break” in a new campaign. Therefore, perhaps we should challenge attitudes to work/life balance before we blame a lack of exercise on a lack of motivation, unachievable goals, or feelings of judgement.
Healthy lifestyle enthusiast, Polly Gamage, Manager, Shoreditch House Gym