Exercise….means I Keep Calm and Carry On! From Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

School’s back and it is time for me to kick start the exercise regime that Kelly initiated during the 3 months when I was her Level 3 Personal Training guinea pig.

I own up – things have slipped a bit over the summer holidays – my girls have been at home for 6 weeks and my gym closed for refurbishment.  Any childcare I have roped Grandparents in for has been to help me from a work point of view, rather than allowing me to nip to the gym!

Last week I had a beautiful lunch time swim in the rain.  Unsurprisingly not many people fancied   swimming in torrential conditions so I had the pool to myself!   It was lovely and I swam 50 lengths in about 40 minutes.  In that empty pool with steam rising and rain falling,  I felt like I just had some time to be in my own headspace and to be away from the computer and housework –  although I did get out of the pool half way through to check for any urgent messages.  I’m not great at switching off completely!

There has been a lot of press recently about how important physical activity is regarding mental health and wellbeing in general.  More so than ever companies look for ways to bring wellness into the workplace, whether it be encouraging healthy eating, complimentary therapists visiting the offices, flexible working or generally encouraging their staff to take part in more exercise.

The NHS website states that physical activities help maintain and improve wellness in a number of ways.  It can help with mild depression and there is evidence that it also helps to protect against anxiety.  Some scientists think that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.

One initiative I’ve heard more about recently is the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) which is a 100 day challenge that focuses on four main steps: walking, nutrition, balance and sleep – ultimately promoting a healthy lifestyle.  Colleagues can sign up in teams of 7 to walk, cycle, swim or run to make up steps in friendly competition against other teams across their companies and others.  Each team sets their own goals, supports and keeps track of each other.  Ultimate objective is to reach 10,000 steps or more a day each and increase your steps over the 100 days.  Companies who take part ultimately want healthier, happier colleagues whose well being is then reflected in the decisions they make and work they produce.

One thing I really noticed during my training with Kelly, apart from the physical changes is that I did feel less stressed and I was able to let situations that would have usually annoyed me to just wash over me more.

I remember an appraisal in my early days as a PA and my Publisher and Editor said they thought I was like a swan, calm and collected on the outside and, if I was stressed, no one would see the feet paddling rapidly beneath the water.    I have always been able to hide stress fairly well but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there – and now we know that hiding it isn’t always the best way to cope.  So we need different ways of dealing with it and I have definitely come round to the idea of ‘looking after yourself’ – prioritising a fit and healthy routine is a very good thing for your self, your family and your work.

So I’ll be re-joining the gym this week, I’ll be back on my bike and maybe I’ll ask Kelly to record a message for me saying ‘Get back on it, and no excuses!’  Sharing your goals is a great way to help you keep you on track.

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