Physical Activity - Im Converted!

It’s eight weeks now since lockdown began and it’s got to the point where social distancing has become the accepted norm in day to day life. For me, the weeks are starting to merge into one with little difference between the weekdays and weekends. That said, this week has been a little different, there has been a lot of commotion as politicians try to work out when it is best for the country to move away from the current restriction measures we are in. Whatever path we eventually follow out of lockdown, it appears that life as we knew it will still be a long way off. With that in mind I decided to try and work out a few points I have learned over the last eight weeks;

1. Teaching children at home is not my strong point - in fact it’s incredibly hard.

2. Running out of toilet paper never posed a threat to humankind.

3. Family and friends are so important, and I miss them.

4. I now understand the true value and meaning of freedom.

5. The staff of the NHS are amazing, and I am so proud to be part of that team.

6. An appreciation of the great outdoors and the fact I now live in a beautiful country (Scotland).

The last point brings me onto the wellbeing theme that the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Scotland are promoting this week, which is ‘Physical Activity’.

Truthfully, when I am at home, I have always been the kind of guy who likes to put his feet up with Netflix and relax. That was until November 2017 when I found myself talking about mental health in the emergency services to the Royal Family (Prince William, Princess Kate and Harry). They were launching the Heads Together Programme alongside the London Marathon. At that time, I didn’t really understand how physical health and mental health went together, but I went with it. After the event, I got to meet the Royals which was incredible. Harry was a genuinely nice guy and indisputably wanted to raise the profile of mental health and wellbeing. After our little chat, he challenged me to run the London Marathon and before I could answer, I had a poster in my hand saying, ‘you’re in’, with pictures being taken by the press – I think Harry secretly found this challenge quite amusing.

The challenge was set, I had 6 months to go from couch to 26.2 miles – prior to this the only place I had ran was between pubs in the rain. I started my training almost immediately. the night after my first run (a mere half a mile) I slept the best I had slept in years. I followed my training plan and eventually found myself able to run further and further. I found myself becoming happier and a generally more relaxed as a person. If I had a bad day, I was able to return back from a run a new person – I was finally able to blow of some steam and enjoy the great outdoors. It eventually got to marathon day and I only went and finished; I’m not going to lie it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but the sense of achievement in being able to reach my goal still stays with me.

So, I guess that’s the link between mental health and physical health, I felt a new person after my first run. But not everyone needs to run a marathon, or even choose running as their physical activity, its important you get active your way. I tend to cycle or just go for walks nowadays, but it’s the doing something that feels great and it means I have earned my rightful place on the sofa that evening.

You can find out more about physical activity and some ideas on how to get going here:

If your already physically active…great! Share the benefits of this with your friends and colleagues, and once the lockdown and social distancing is over, encourage them to join you on your next outing.

Dan Farnworth

Twitter - @DanFarnworth

Paramedic Dumfries

Author: 999: My Life on The Frontline

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