Sorry for the radio silence over the last week! I’ve been crazy-busy in pre-holiday work mode (why does that always happen no matter how far in advance you know it’s coming and no matter how prepared you are??) and then on holiday!
I’m writing this en route back from Croatia, which, if you haven’t been, is one of the most amazing holiday spots you could possibly choose. I almost want to stop telling people about it as it’s getting more and more popular as a holiday destination, but it’s so good I have to tell everyone I know. I’ve spent the last four days on a girls ‘weekend’ away with two of my closest and oldest friends. We’ve known each other since we were 3 and about 6 or 7 respectively and now that we live on three different continents we don’t get much time together, so the last few days of drinks, food and laughs was so precious. The fact that I got to take them to one of my favourite places in the world was an added bonus.
Now, on my way back, my mind is returning to real life and especially the fact that it’s National Fitness Day. You may have seen on Twitter that I was a little over-excited about National Fitness Day, thinking it was last week! Maybe it was wishful thinking as I really wanted to be involved first-hand in the activities, helping to raise awareness of the importance of an active lifestyle and getting people involved. However, although I’m missing taking part in the organized activities, since National Fitness Day is partly about getting active where you are, as part of your lifestyle, I’m doing my best to make activity part of my day where I happen to be. Luckily, I woke up next to the stunning Adriatic, which is about 25-30C at the moment and that meant I could run down for a quick swim and some yoga stretches before packing and heading to the airport.
All of this got me thinking about health and fitness in general and the lifestyle in other countries vs the UK. As someone who loves sun, warm weather and the water, it’s always going to be easier to fit fitness and movement into a lifestyle near the water or with good weather. I think it goes without saying that getting out of bed for a run on a cold, grey London winter’s morning is a lot less appealing and takes a lot more motivation and self-control than rolling out of bed and onto a beach! With London commutes taking the amount of time out of the day that they do, it makes every minute of exercise a harder-fought battle to carve out of every day or even just a few times a week, too. And if you’re a swimmer, it’s not like you’re just going to pop down to the Thames for a few laps (eww!) – there’s the cost and faff involved in getting to a locally run pool or finding a gym that has one. Using Croatia as an example, there are also plenty of hills and stairs so if swimming isn’t your thing, you can always find stairs to run up and down or do some serious, get-properly-out-of-breath hill walking—and both of these will probably just naturally become part of your daily routine, helping to keep you in better general health compared to the relatively flat landscape of central London.
So London does have its challenges when it comes to building fitness and activity into your daily routine or weekly lifestyle.
But there are upsides, of course! Because London is a big city, built of lots of small neighbourhoods, I (and many people) are more likely to walk to get to the closest small store than hopping in the car to drive to a big supermarket, and commuting by Tube or train usually means getting to the nearest station by foot or bike – all of which adds to your incidental exercise, which might not happen in a smaller town or the suburbs. The London weather also has its positives (even if I often find it easy to forget during the greyest, darkest, wettest stretches of winter): coming from a place that can easily and regularly hit -15C or -20C in the winter, with metres of snow piling up on the sidewalks and roadsides, even if it’s not as pleasant as a jog in the sun, running in 6C and a bit of drizzle is about a million times better than freezing your butt off trying to run outdoors in the Toronto winter (don’t even get me started on the soul-sucking, fitness-resolution-destroying boredom of trying to do 10K on a treadmill indoors, staring at a wall!). With the big city and large number of people comes choice, too, so if you’re like me and you love a class to keep you motivated or enjoy trying new forms of exercise, London has no end of gyms, classes and studios for pretty much every budget and taste.
At the end of the day, while I may not live on a beach (yet!) I need to remind myself that fitting fitness into my day is a choice and a commitment and that London—despite some challenges and a little less sun than most people would like—provides loads of options and opportunities that are there for the taking. And I guess that’s what National Fitness Day is really about. Getting out there, doing it and having fun, not wishfully thinking about how or where it could be better or easier, because you either need to make the best of where you are or make a change.
How do you fit exercise into your everyday routine? And if you could take your active lifestyle and live it anywhere, where would you be?