Poor you, you live in a city and life is tough. When it comes to exercise you can’t because of this and that. Maybe you say its because of pollution or no green space. You have to work in an office. Boohoo, I’ll just go get my violin. I hear these terrible excuses and obviously it annoys me. I’m going to blow this line of thinking apart today and tell you why being a city slicker is an advantage.
I’ll give you 7 reasons why its easier for City Slickers to exercise, be healthy and keep motivated.
I understand the issues that are faced in a city. Pollution, concrete jungle, transport, time constraints, office work, social pressure, pubs and socialising to name a few. I lived in London for 11 years and spent a significant amount of time in the pub : ) Through a lot of that time I happily commuted from place to place on a bike (before it was popular to do so as it is now). I ran, cycled, climbed, explored, hiked and more while having a ball of a time with new friends and in new places.
Maybe the City Slicker Ostrich, with the head in the sand, thinks that you have to be extreme and ‘sporty’ or already into active things to have the motivation to get out there. Or the Ostrich thinks that the reasoning is wrong because they’ve told themselves a story about how they couldn't possibly exercise in a city… anyone that does is crazy. I’ve been called crazy while living in the 'big smoke' and I'm proud of it.
Do you seriously think that there are no fit people in the city? Think about it, how many olympians, marathon runners or commuters live in cities? The answer is most of them.
Putting your head in the sand coming up with flawed reasons against exercise is embarrassing for you. Maybe it will hurt those you close to you when they watch your health deteriorate. It is sad to use flawed reasoning to not look after your body and your mind.
Here are 7 reasons it is easier to get lean, strong, fit and healthy living in a city while NOT needing to go to the gym
1 Change Your Mindset
I’ve already touched on this. Even though you might feel like you can’t find the time or motivation because you slog away in an office for 8 hours a day, at the end of the day any excuse you come up with is lame. There is still plenty of opportunity, you can find the energy and it makes sense to get out to exercise. Like most ‘fit’ people who live in a city. Prioritise your health to make it a habit and enjoy it. You can exercise outdoors. You can find time, everyone is busy, not just you. You will feel and look better.
I hear all the time that "you should never commute to work on foot or by bike because because of the pollution.”
This makes me mad, the reasoning is plain stupid. Yes there is pollution in cities. Everywhere in cities. Yes you will be exposed to it. But, what if you didn’t commute to work and you sat on a train or in a car instead? The lack of activity, the sedentary life is, according to many scientists, the new smoking. This study from the University of Cambridge found walking and cycling good for health even in cities with higher levels of air pollution. Is there pollution in the subway, on the bus or in a car? Of course there is. Looking at the air quality on the London tube I would say it is much worse than being outside commuting on a bike or walking. By this logic (and the research) your car, bus or train commute is less healthy.
It is safe to exercise in a polluted city. In fact it is better for you! This very good CNN video explains it well.
2 Find Something Enjoyable To Do
Realise that within a city the options to find an enjoyable outdoor activities are much greater than anywhere else. There are more people, and it follows logically there are more friends, groups, clubs and facilities that promote and encourage healthy fun activity for you to partake in. Heres just a quick list of exercise you could easily find; run, cycle, swim, tennis, basketball, football, baseball, badminton, volleyball, horse riding (the list of sports is endless), walking, yoga, bootcamps and even (dare I admit it) gyms (but only if you go in for that sort of thing).
Enjoy your activity. Get in the regular habit by scheduling it each week.
Remember besides your activity, it is important to burn calories by moving during the day. A big part of a healthy lifestyle is to move during the day when you are not doing exercise. Take a 5 minute from the desk, do jumping jacks, walk to the lunch meeting… none of these will get you fired. Probably the opposite, you’ll be regarded as the sensible one at work and win fans!
3 Friends For Accountability and Fun
Another huge asset to being in the city is that you are there are going to be more like minded people to hang out with to make exercise a social occasion. Friends make it fun, keep you motivated, keep the energy high, keep challenging and most importantly hold you accountable. If you can join a running group, join a rock climbing gym or simply ask a friend to keep you company while going for a 20 minute run twice a week you will increase the odds of success in health and fitness dramatically! Get out the door to exercise!
(riding with mates on the weekend = cafe with mates on the weekend)
4 Place to do it
Yes I know, cities are big concrete jungles with absolutely nowhere to exercise. What a load of $%^&*. Most cities have parks. Even the smallest park is sufficient to run around and create any number of fun exercise routines. If you absolutely can’t find a park, try a playground where the options for bodyweight and cardio exercises are still endless. What about a basketball court, running oval, football fields, river, garden or the local pool?! And if you are running or cycling then simply any road will do. I would say that often with parks and other dedicated outdoor exercise facilities, cities have many more options than the countryside!
5 Event entry
Now if you want motivation an awesome motivation is to enter an event. Getting off the couch is the hard part, once you have chosen and entered then motivation will follow. The important point here is that you must realise there are events on all the time in the city and they can be fun, social, serious, big or small. It will be a challenge, fun and you’ll be motivated to get out and prepare for it.
There are more events going on in cities than in the countryside. Often close to a city there are events that are easy to reach and also motivate you to get out of the city for a day while doing something challenging, fun and potentially life changing!
“one goal in mind… it was to rip people off the couch” Joe de Sena
Here see the running events listed in London alone, hundreds and these are only the big sponsored ones. The actual number of fun events is probably in the thousands. One minute search and I have so many options. How fun does this look, 5k Zombie Survival Run Inflatable Obstacle Course!
I admit, in the city can be tough. In the winter you might have rain, darkness all within a concrete cage. The only difference to the countryside is that you have more lights, more friends, more events, more places to go, more dedicated activity places… hold on, again, its actually better to be in a city.
Even if it feels too hot or cold or windy or just not inspiring just enter an event or call a friend and work at keeping the habit. Living in the city is easier to do these things. I admit that maybe there is, on the other hand, more temptation. But once you prioritise life and listen to the science behind the movement then you can choose what you want to do, whether that is go to the pub with friends or go for a run with friends is up to you.
Push through any low motivation periods with scheduled activity with friends or training partners, maybe commute to ensure consistency. Always aim for a goal like an event or to improve your body, strength, fitness or general health to live a fuller happier life.
Some say its 90% of the challenge, some say 80%… so I’ll say 85%. A nebulous number that basically says the majority of your health and bodily improvement will be shaped by what you eat. Lets look at this in terms of city vs countryside… In the city you have temptation of restaurants and all those yummy burgers with fries, you have social pressures to eat out or eat fast. But on the other hand, you have access to fresh food (‘local’ markets are normally more prevalent in cities than you’d think) and you have access to more supermarkets carrying much more of a variety and quality of fresh food and all types of 'real food'.
All you need to do is have a strategy for restaurants and prioritise your health (but still you can be flexible and have fun). In the city you’ll see it is actually easy to get access to good wholesome food probably for cheaper than if you were not in a city! Cook at home for a change…. in the city you still have a kitchen don’t you? - use it!
What city do you live in and whats the problems you face in motivating or practically getting out for exercise?
Send me a message or comment below, I promise to read and reply to everything!
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