I grew up on a farm in England and had a very active childhood riding horses and cycling everywhere. I loved the outdoor lifestyle. At my school I enjoyed gymnastics and athletics but didn't have much natural aptitude for the team sports on offer, which were mainly netball and hockey. After leaving school I became a nurse and for many years sport and exercise were on the back burner, as I was living in the city and working shifts, although I did swim occasionally at the local sports centre. The following years while juggling work and motherhood there was not much time to indulge in exercise of any sort and I had lost the habit of fitting in physical activity into my daily routine.
This all changed a little when my children became slightly older and were both at school. After dropping them off at school I began meeting other mothers and walking around the vicinity of the school. This progressed until a group of six of us arranged our first local tramp which involved being away overnight. We enjoyed the camaraderie so much that we have continued to organise tramps longer and further afield and have completed many of the iconic walking tracks in the North and South Island. We all feel very refreshed after a few days walking in the beautiful scenery enjoying great company, food and not to mention wine! Ten years ago, I also started playing tennis after having some lessons at the local tennis club. The reason for this was that my husband and friends all played, and I was keen to join in. I was proud that I was determined enough to start from scratch and have had lots of fun playing in local competitions.
Fast forwarding a few more years and my husband and I are 'empty nesters'. At first I missed taking the kids to their sporting activities and watching their sport matches, but I began to relish all this new spare time and to my amazement started to run regularly (very slowly). I find that it is an activity that fits in well with my lifestyle as it can be done at any time and you only need a comfy pair of running shoes. It helps that there is an abundance of great tracks only a short walk away from my house. However, I mostly enjoy the social side of running and have just completed 70 Parkruns (these are a global initiative which are free and open to walkers and runners of all abilities). There are now at least 30 Parkruns in New Zealand. I also volunteer with the run every few weeks and have enjoyed meeting new people (and the coffee afterwards!,) which makes the exertion even more worthwhile. My husband and I have also joined a local running club which meets up twice a week in the winter and has the benefits of being able to run over privately owned land which I would not normally be able to access. There are many organised local running events at weekends where I enjoy exercising and meeting up with friends in the local running fraternity. There are many inspirational women running and walking their way to fitness which I hope to be able to emulate.
There are always barriers to overcome when involving regular exercise in our busy lives. I have found that the main hurdle was the worry of appearing foolish at a running event or even the dreaded fear of coming last, which I have done several times and guess what? No one cares. Everyone is a winner by actually getting off the couch and giving it a go! It can be very easy to talk yourself out of exercising particularly after a day’s work, however I find that if I commit to meeting a friend to run walk with I am less likely to drop out. Good organisation is paramount and at the beginning of the week I 'lock in' exercise sessions in my diary and find that once I have done this I am more likely to make the effort.
Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and exercise is crucial in keeping this condition under control as it is very important to keep at a constant weight. Therefore, this is a huge incentive to keep active and as a nurse I advise people about the benefits of exercise in keeping healthy and managing chronic health conditions. I feel that I am a good role model and more authentic by walking the talk.
"Going to the gym and being physically active makes me feel alive and motivated"
"The rush you get from being active, and achieving your physical goals, is unmeasurable"
"I love the feeling when you're all sweaty, tired and out of breath because you know you've tried your best and pushed yourself as far as you could"
"I like getting fit, competing and winning medals. I like to have big strong muscles"
"So often as a mum you are doing things for other people, so being physically active makes me feel good in that I’m doing something positive for myself"
"I enjoy the social aspect of being physically active, when it’s not too serious and it’s just about learning new skills or getting out of the house and having fun"
“I don't like sitting around and being bored. I love participating in team sport and putting goals in place to achieve.”
“Never give up, keep pushing even when times are hard, and love yourself. Find your passion and grow because your only competition is yourself”
“Being active is important to me. I want to live a healthy life and movement is a big part of that”
"For me, sport and physical activity has offered me opportunities to make friends for life and memories I will never forget"
"I’m now convinced that I am not in competition with anyone and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks anyway. I know I’m never going to win races but as long as I am trying my best to be a better me than I was yesterday then I am winning at life"
"Not being the one sitting on the sidelines watching and being able to role model how to stay healthy and fit to my children so that they grow up believing being active is a part of everyday life and sharing all these wonderful adventures with them, it makes my heart sing"
“Quite often when you can’t be bothered or you’re feeling sluggish and tired you can surprise yourself on how well you’ll do. Just get out the door, breathe in some fresh air and take some time for YOU, because you deserve to be HAPPY and HEALTHY!”
“Start out with small steps and milestones like walking around the block without stopping, going to that first group fitness class or jumping in the water for the first time in 10 years or so”
“I feel a lot happier when I'm active. A run or a swim will always clear my head”
“You have got to have a positive attitude and just get out there. Keep moving, stay focused, because life is way too short to waste your time not doing what you love to do. Just do it”
“By valuing ME more, I started to recognise myself and all of my qualities. Now I’m proud of who I am”
“I find I am generally a better human being and can give more when I keep active”
“Being active amazes me at what my body can achieve, after all I have put it through. It amazes me how it can heal”
"Find something that you enjoy doing and make the time to do it. You’re not being selfish; you’re looking after yourself. The best time to start is today"
“Running and working out are my antidote to the everyday stresses of life. When I’m not active I find it harder to switch off and view things in perspective. Sweating through activity means I don’t sweat the small things in life”
“Being active makes me feel like I’m using my body for good. It makes me feel powerful, positive, sweaty, glorious, achy in a good way, and hopeful for the future”
“Running is an outlet for me and I feel as though I am in control when it’s just me and my running shoes”
“I was proud that I was determined enough to start from scratch and have had lots of fun playing in local competitions”
"I didn’t want to be the parent that only ever watched my kids run around and kick a ball – I wanted to be a part of what they were doing"
“Happy is a very well-known word but yet can be described in many ways. To me happy means doing the things you love while not being forced to do them. Sport and keeping physically active are my happy place”
“Overall regular physical activity makes me more positive and happier”
“I feel alive and ready for anything”
“Active, healthy lifestyles aren’t defined by how often you run or go to the gym. Exercise can look like what you want it to be and what fits into your life”
"Just by putting your shoes on and getting out there, you’re being active and doing great things for your wellbeing."
"There’s so much reward to be had by overcoming fear and achieving things you never thought you could – so go for it – and link up with other likeminded women along the way."
"Exercise makes me feel incredible! It makes me feel strong capable and grounded."
"...there is more to life than the aesthetic of your body."
"I am so damn proud of what my body and brain can do for me. It brings me so much joy."
"Feeling confident in my own skin, being stronger and fitter than when I was younger."