The exercise revolution is here! Fun workouts replace ‘no pain, no gain’

Physical health activities are now complementing mental health

Sweating during spin class, struggling to keep up with Zumba, or crying over CrossFit… exercise can leave us feeling shamed or embarrassed if we can’t keep up with peers.

Though the workout revolution has arrived, changing the way people now engage with moving their bodies.

No longer are there expectations to be Olympian levels of fit, but instead the focus is shifting towards what physical health activities complement our mental health.

In particular, lockdown has reconnected people with the simple pleasures of walking around local areas to discover hidden gems they never knew existed, trialling yoga videos from the vast array of YouTubers offering free content, and squats aplenty while weeding the garden.

[Credit: Kari Shea]

Brits are now bidding farewell to old habits and no longer paying for expensive gym memberships they rarely use, according to a new study from AXA Health who provide wellbeing services.

In the study of 2,000 adults, eight out of every ten people said enjoyment of exercise is key, while 55% said they don’t feel we need to suffer through exercise to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The research also revealed how people now see mental health as the foundation of good physical health, with 39% stating ‘doing what you love’ is vital for overall wellbeing. We concur!

Speaking about the stats, the company’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Annabel Bentley, said: “Health means something different to all of us, only you know what makes you feel good.

“It might mean going for regular runs or it might mean borrowing the neighbour’s dog for a walk.

“It could be gentle stretching or meditation, or simply taking time to sit somewhere quietly and switch your mind – and phone – off.”

[Credit: Humphrey Muleba]

Comedian Jack Whitehall was invited aboard to front the firm’s Feelgood Health campaign, which aims to help people learn how they can take care of their mind and their bodies.

“A chihuahua for a dog walk… give me that over an ultra-marathon any day.”

Jack Whitehall

Chatting about the exercise that makes him feel most free, the Fresh Meat actor said he preferred to take life at a slower pace than sprinting around like a pro athlete.

Jack said: “This is the sort of healthy that isn’t about 5am starts and being shouted at by a personal trainer. I know that works for some people, but it’s just not for me.

“Instead, a chihuahua for a dog walk… I mean, give me that over an ultra-marathon any day.”

[Credit: AXA Health]

While the mind and body are often still thought of as separate entities, it has been proven that good lifestyle choices can influence the state of both.

Physical activity not only keeps our bodies fit but is known to boost wellbeing, with even gentle exercise releasing feel-good chemicals known as endorphins into the brain, which in turn improves mental alertness, energy and mood.

Right, just off for a stroll then…

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