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LGM Coordinator Niamh looking elated at her graduation ceremony!

Activity has always been a large part of my life. My dad used to be a personal trainer and my mum has always had a passion for healthy food and exercise. As much as I protested this as a kid – refusing to eat my greens and my poor mother having to practically drag me to athletic practice only to leave with the image of my somewhat betrayed face in her mind – I am (now) forever grateful.

I’m not saying I’m some kind of glowing, marathon-running, smoothie-making wonder; I would greatly struggle to run a marathon, I have planned to make more smoothies than I ever actually have and I definitely don’t glow. However, I do find a great deal of joy in exercise and trying to lead as healthy a lifestyle as I possibly can, so something that has really helped me in my quest to stay fit is finding a form of activity that I really enjoy. That form at the moment is running.

I have been a runner since I can remember. From races in the playground to prove I was the fastest kid in the year to sports days with my mum more stressed than I was, I have always run.  During my younger years I may have run ever so slightly under duress ,but even then I enjoyed it; I loved the speed and the motivation to beat my personal best. I have figured out over the years – particularly through my university degree – that I work better with targets. Personally I need something to aim for otherwise I can be quite lazy, so targets enable me to visualise what that goal is and determine the most realistic way to get there. For example, while the likelihood of me getting up before work and going for a run is slim to none (I’m not a morning person in the slightest), taking part in exercise classes at lunch or trying to fit in a run after work is much more realistic. I have learnt from training as a kid not to beat myself up when I don’t stick to these targets as it isn’t always easy to motivate yourself, and a busy schedule, feeling tired, or just life in general can get in the way of doing what you aim to. However, in times when life seems too much and exercise is the last thing on my mind, it is actually the thing that helps!

The final year of my degree was incredibly stressful –  with apparently endless deadlines, the colossal task that was my dissertation, and the terrifying prospect of having to enter the adult world. There were a few times when I honestly felt snowed under as if the work would never end and the three years of hard work would amount to nothing. In one of these particularly down times I went to see my parents as they were in London for the weekend, and upon the suggestion I have a cup of tea I broke down. I have nothing against tea, I actually love tea and get through about 4 cups a day at work, but it was the unfortunate trigger for my pent-up stress. So, post-meltdown, my mum suggested I go for a run. This was quite literally an enlightening moment for me as I found that running was a great way to cope with my stress, and I would always return from a run feeling calmer and more focused. It was also a far more productive break than the Netflix marathons I had been embarking on before.

Activity is not one size fits all; what works for me may not work for you. This is one of the many reasons I love working on Let’s Get Moving as it not only takes this into account, but prioritises the fact that exercise is different for everyone: what may seem like a hill to one person is a mountain to another. For me, running keeps me sane and I will continue to run until it ceases to do so, but, I’m not bound to it and if one day it doesn’t work for me, I will find something new. That is the beauty of exercise; there is something for everyone!