I spent Saturday outside in my grandparents’ garden. As I was digging, hoeing, planting, sweeping, lifting and wheel-barrowing in the sunshine, I couldn’t help but wonder why people pay a £50+ a month gym membership to exercise inside.
I used to have a gym membership. I used to force myself to drive for ten minutes to run or bike or row while staring at a TV screen. I didn’t go as much as I thought I should have done (does anybody?) so I felt guilty and miserable and found it even more difficult to motivate myself. I assumed it was because I hated exercise. In fact, it’s because there are few things more depressing than cycling for half an hour without going anywhere.
One day I couldn’t face going to the gym. I listened to my body and did what I wanted to do: I went for a run. I remember it because it was one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve ever been on. I ran alongside a canal: it was beautiful, it was sunny, and I quite literally had a spring in my step as I saw the scenery change around me. I had found my freedom from the treadmill and it was amazing.
I realised that I love being active, I just hate the gym. I cancelled my membership. I saved money, spent more time outside and, perhaps surprisingly, I started doing more exercise.
As well as gardening over the bank holiday, I also went on several walks and a 17 mile bike ride. I didn’t do any of this to “do some exercise” or to lose weight. I did it to grow things, to tidy things, to get to the pub, to spend time with friends and family.
So if you’re struggling to do enough exercise I’d recommend you forget it. Get outside, do what you enjoy, meet friends for walks instead of (or as well as) dinner. Cycle to get places, run to feel the breeze on your face. The best kind of exercise is accidental.