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You’re never too busy to keep fit

Friday, June 20, 2008

The following article was published in the Sheffield Star on Wednesday 18th June 2008. The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation can be contacted at: http://www.wsff.org.uk/mps/

 

Written by Jo Davison

 

Too busy to fit fitness into your life?

 

You’re not the only one.

Over 80 per cent of women aren’t getting enough exercise and not having the time is our biggest excuse.

But how much busier can you be than an MP?

Meg Munn, Sheffield’s MP and a Foreign Office Minister, thought her hectic working life would never stretch to take in exercise.

She lives in a city flat close to the Houses of Parliament four days a week, with only long weekends at her home in Sheffield.

At the Commons, working days can stretch to midnight. And then there are the vital meetings and trips on ministerial business.

When your feet scarcely touch the ground, how on earth can a woman like Meg find the time to pull on a pair of trainers?

But Meg and 11 other leading female politicians got out their diaries and fought to fit in fitness when they were urged to take up a three-month gym challenge.

The women surely some of the busiest in Britain had been asked to set a good example by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, the charity that campaigns to make physical activity an integral part of life for women and girls in the UK.

It urged them to commit to tailored exercise plans and one-to-one fitness sessions.

"The theory was that if we could manage to work gym sessions into our already crammed diaries, then it was proof that other women with crowded lifestyles could," Meg told The Star one snatched lunch break at the Commons.

"I have never been a couch potato I love sport and played hockey and tennis right the way through school and university. I have always tried to make it an intrinsic part of my life because I know how good it makes me feel," says Meg. "But over recent years it has got harder to fit in because time is so short and I get very tired.

"But I did realise I was in a chicken and egg situation. Once you actually start doing the exercise you think you’re too tired for, you feel far more robust and energetic."

Meg and her fellow MPs experiences will help the WSFF explain the issues busy women have to work around if they want to work out as the Government reviews its physical activity strategy.

"It is worrying how few women are doing enough exercise to benefit their health," said Sue Tibballs, chief executive of WSFF. "Physical activity is not only beneficial to physical health, but also to mental health”.

"Women who make activity integral to their lives report higher levels of confidence and self-esteem."

Meg, 48 and a social worker before becoming an MP in 2001, signed up to her twice-weekly fitness sessions at a gym in Westminster, close to the Commons.

"They gave me a personal trainer called Brian. He’s from Grenada, and the Caribbean is one of my ministerial responsibilities, so we always have lots to talk about."

Not that there’s a great deal of time for chit-chat.

"He pushes me it’s not quite like being at school, but almost!"

The gym is a five-minute walk away and Meg often finds herself rushing to the fitness appointments she schedules into her diary.

"I knew that if I didn’t put them in my diary, it wouldn’t happen," she says. "Simply telling myself I’d go on a Wednesday wouldn’t have worked."

But several weeks into her regime, Meg is convinced it’s actually a necessity to a healthier and more productive life.

She says: "I love being there because it’s my time, when I can forget work for a while. And when I leave I feel energised." 

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