We all have aspirations to improve our health, whether we view it this way or not. Even the most ‘unhealthy’ of us will want to eat one less takeaway a week or cut down on a few cigarettes each day.
Whilst there are known social obstacles to our health goals (your best friend persuading you for a catch up over an Indian, an impromptu after-work drink(s) on your Pilates evening...), one of the biggest obstacles can be our own will. Who hasn’t talked themselves out of that 5k because it’s raining? Or thought, ‘I’ll start the diet next week’ because there are too many yummy treats knocking about in the cupboard?
Finding a network of like-minded individuals who can inspire us when we’re feeling de-motivated and keep us on track of our health goals can be priceless. They may bring out the competitive streak in us or enlighten us on new ways (e.g. apps) to help us stay on track of our goals.
There may also be further benefits to joining like-minded groups. Research has shown that feeling socially connected to others can enhance physical and mental recovery from illness. Those that feel part of a group (health-related or not) were less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Furthermore, those that maintained group connections were more able to smoothly navigate large transitional life events such as university, children leaving home and retirement. This is likely due to the feeling of ‘belonging’ and sense of being supported by a network of others that may be going through similar experiences. What’s not to love?!
It can also be hugely rewarding to visit a healthcare professional in the area you want to improve.
· A nutritionist will be able to tailor a weight-loss plan for your specific needs (e.g. vegan/celiac/family history of stroke). They will also explain why ‘low-fat’ products are often not worth buying and explain the continued need for certain fats even whilst trying to lose weight.
· A running coach will evaluate your gait and make suggestions on muscles to strengthen and types of running footwear to enhance your running technique.
· An osteopath can diagnose and treat any underlying musculo-skeletal issues that may be preventing you participating in certain activities or hindering your yoga/Pilates/Barre/bootcamp abilities.
· A counsellor can help us break negative habits/address unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that prevent us from being the best version of ourselves.
If you want to improve your healthcare but are not sure where to start, think about what is most important to you or what areas of your life are making you most discontent. Feeing sluggish, irritable and out of shape? Look at local BootCamp UK groups. Reminiscing about your old running days? Join a local (and very popular) ParkRun. Feeling like your to-do list is never ending? Scope out nearby mindfulness classes.