How Active Commute Club helped me to get moving again

In March I signed up to join an initiative called Active Commute Club run by Sustrans Scotland to encourage us to be active outdoors in the time that would have been spent commuting. It was a great time to do it with spring on its way.

The aim was to reimagine your commute to suit your working day and enjoy the benefits of getting active. People working from home were encouraged to make the most of time when they used to be stuck in rush hour to walk, wheel, jog, cycle or scoot. I had been doing this since 2015 when I became self-employed, AND I was curious to find out how taking part in a group initiative would enhance my experience of this. Key workers were included too, still needing to commute to work and were encouraged to do this in an active way, where possible.

Even though I missed a few days because I was under the weather, it gave me space to notice how much I wanted to be out and about being active outside, and to reflect on what I notice when I do.

Three things stood out for me which, by coincidence, have the same initials as Active Commute Club (A-C-C): Appreciation, Commitment, and Consistency.

Appreciation – I’ve noticed a heightened sense of gratitude for the things that are right under my nose. The same walks I’ve been on every day for over a year are revealing new features. I’m more aware of the seasonal changes in the weather, the light, and the plant life all round, which I’m noticing in macro detail. It helps me to put things in perspective. Alternative routes have popped up which I hadn’t noticed before. And I love that I can walk from my front door and be by the sea within 5 minutes.

I find that heading outside with an attitude of appreciation and paying attention to the present moment can do wonders for my wellbeing. It’s like a gentle, accessible form of mindfulness training, gently guiding the attention back when it wanders off (which it does, because our brains are wired like that!). And science proves that regular mindfulness meditation can reduce the likelihood and severity of chronic, long-term illnesses and support memory and attention span, among other things. What’s not to love about that?!

I also enjoyed an unexpected experience of speaking about my experience of mindfulness on Times Radio along with Terry Roberts, Delivery co-ordinator at Sustrans. Being a meditation teacher and often encouraging coaching clients to be mindful and spend time out in nature, I was able to share a personal perspective as well.

Commitment – I consciously committed for the month and felt a sense of community with the other people who were doing it, and was motivated to encourage others to join in, especially when we started sharing our photos (look up #ActiveCommuteClub on Twitter). I must say, it’s the cheeriest, most enthusiastic bunch of ‘commuters’ I’ve ever come across! And I felt I was doing my bit for the team by committing to daily activity and sharing what I was up to.

Consistency – I’ve found it was easy to be consistent because I signed up for a manageable chunk of time. Even though I was ill for a few days, my commitment to the month-long initiative never waned and I got straight back into it again when I was able. And now the month is complete, I want to do more and have started aiming for 8-10,000 steps a day.

As a result of joining Active Commute Club, I’ve increased my exercise, I’m spending more time outdoors, I’m loving the variety of my daily walks, and I am giving myself permission to take longer breaks at lunchtime to enjoy the best of the weather. I feel more productive and energetic, and it seems to have sparked my creativity as well.

Take a look at Sustrans website for the variety of ways they support an active lifestyle, whatever your starting point is. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to take part!

And if you’re interested to know more about mindfulness and Mindful Living, take a look at the online day-retreat I’m running in May, or read my book ‘Roots for Growth’ which has a whole section about Mindful Living alongside topics like resilience and growing through change.

If you'd like to understand how thought patterns and beliefs influence motivation, self-talk, and how you relate to others, there are opportunities coming up to join NLP training with Carolyn Murray and me or come to a 90-minute workshop to dip your toe in the water.

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