Small Changes Make a Big Difference

Dec 11, 2020

I was catching up with a friend recently, one of those zoom cuppa-tea calls that have replaced sinking into a comfy armchair at the local coffee house. He asked how work was, and I realised I hadn’t had the chance to tell him much about it yet.

“So your job, it’s about making people do more physical activity?”
“Erm, no, not really. We’re not in the business of making anyone do anything.”
“OK, OK, so it’s about encouraging folk to get fitter?”
He threw up his hands energetically enough that the zoom screen pixelated. “You tell me in your words, then!”
“Well if you’d let me get a word in…”
He grinned, “Just get on with it.”
“So the point is that moving more, even just a little bit more, day to day is massively important for physical and mental health. Like, MASSIVELY.”
“Oh, yeah, your man Chris Whitty said that.”
“Right! So we need to find out what stops people from forming those habits, and then we use our skills and this funding we’ve got and our partnerships with people who make decisions – the council and stuff – to do things that people say will make it easier to move more on a daily basis.”
He looked genuinely thoughtful, which was better than the semi-polite interest he’d been showing before the mini zoom malfunction.
“Isn’t some of that down to paying for infrastructure?”
“Yes. Sport England gave us some money. We’re looking at improving cycle routes and footpaths for one of our projects.”
“And how will you tell people what stuff to do to change their habits?”
I smiled broadly, this was the bit I liked. “We don’t. They tell us. Then we tell everyone else.”
He sipped his cup of tea, or whatever it was, watching me over the rim.
“Send me a link to your website and social.”

So, quietly at first, we in the Live and Move team have been gathering information and insight from people in Exeter and Cranbrook, to find out what people’s actual lives are like, and why they can’t always get more active.

There are all sorts of interesting stories and ideas starting to come out of the woodwork. A lot of them seem so simple when you hear them, but habitual patterns are persistent, pesky things (part of the reason I consume so much tea – though I’m pleased to report I no longer take sugar).

Small Changes Making a Big Difference

You can check out the Our Stories area on our website to see stories from and about people in our Exeter and Cranbrook communities, but I’d like to share some of my current favourites from informal conversations I’ve had with people over the last few months.

  •  “I don’t diet. I’m overweight but I love food. I love cooking for my family and friends; I’m not giving up gravy and sauces! What I do do, is I dance to loud music while I’m cooking. My daughters think I’m nuts but sometimes they join in too. That’s my little habit that gets me a bit out of puff every day!”

  • “Yeah, my friends and me had this lecture at school way back about healthy eating and obesity and stuff. So we started racing up the stairs in between lessons to burn calories. The teachers got a bit jippy about that though, so we agreed we’d take the stairs two at a time at home and we might Tik Tok it, actually.”

  • “Every morning when I wake up I have a cup of tea and read the paper – online now – before I start the day. I’ve been taking yoga classes on the computer since I had to shield in March and have kept it up. The yoga showed me how important gentle stretching is and what a big difference it can make, so now while I wait for the kettle to boil I do some arm and leg stretches and circle my pelvis and things. Now, whenever I’m waiting for the kettle, I get a gentle bit of exercise too.”

That last one has made me realise that, with my average daily tea intake, I could be getting a lot more movement in. How about this: I’ll try my best this week to do a mini workout whenever the kettle is boiling and I’ll report back to you. I’m not going to Tik Tok it, though. Sorry about that.

If you’ve got any top tips for getting a bit more movement into your day – things that are manageable and fun and turn into active habits – please let us know! You can send us a photo, too, if you like!

#ActiveHabits #LiveandMoveExeter #MoveMoreCranbrook

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