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Why we need to reframe the concept of fitness

Written by Dr. Nicola Eccles on 20 Sep 2022

Fitness is a such a divisive word.  It can create fear and instil guilt. We feel we should be fitter.  We feel guilty that we are not ‘doing’ the things we should be doing to get fitter. We are not even sure what or how to begin. 

This National Fitness Day Aspire encourage you to take a different view.  One of compassionate curiosity.  One where we try to change the narrative around getting fit and take away the guilt and fear around it (which then often prevents us from moving!).

Consider how the concept of world fitness day makes you feel?  If the answer is guilt or ‘lacking’ then you are not alone.  We see fitness as a distant and blurry ‘goal’… something we will aim for when we have our lives ‘sorted’, when ‘things’ are in place, when we have more time or less responsibilities.   We see fitness as requiring willpower and motivation. This National Fitness Day let’s change the narrative to help change our behaviour.  Reframe the concept of fitness as a daily habit which brings so much more to your lived experience than your appearance.   Reframe fitness as a something which doesn’t need to be difficult.  Stop trying to ‘get fit’ and instead consider the daily pursuit of movement as an essential tool to support your mental health.

We all know that we should move more but statistics show that a significant proportion of us are not.  This increases the likelihood that we will suffer from one of the major lifestyle diseases which are so prevalent today.  More importantly and much more relevant to most of us, it increases the likelihood that we will not thrive mentally.  Living with low mood and low-level anxiety is something which so many of us struggle with every day.  Even more so since the pandemic. Moving more is an effective solution to this.  

If we see fitness as something difficult then we will avoid it.   After a long day at work dealing with challenges, faced with more responsibilities and time pressures at home, how many of us then want to exert willpower and motivation?  Instead, we want distraction, we want to chill out with a bottle of wine or watching Netflix.  The concept of ‘fitness’ in our minds requires hard work. 

If we can change the narrative around fitness then so many more of us might actually unwittingly become fitter.  When we see an evening walk, jog, or swim as something enjoyable, that will also serve the same purpose as switching off with a bottle of wine, we will be more likely to choose that activity over other competing activities (e.g. the sofa!).

Let’s got back to that concept of compassionate curiosity.  This is where we start.  This National Fitness Day instead of guilt around your current state of fitness, look with compassionate curiosity at the way in which you choose to spend your time.  Consider how a walk round the block with a friend might give you the same feeling as zoning out on the sofa.  Consider how you could choose movement over inactivity because it makes your mind feel clearer and perspective on life feel more positive, rather than anything to do with weight, physiology or your appearance.