Last night, adding yet another success to a great summer for women’s sport, England women’s team secured a Rugby World Cup semi-final place after overpowering USA.
So my piece in today’s Bristol Post is a timely one. I’ll reproduce it here, for those unable to get hold of the local paper.
If you could take a magic potion to slash your risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and improve your mental health, appearance and confidence, you’d take it, wouldn’t you? Well, that potion is sport and exercise.
I never did it. At school, I saw PE lessons as a burden. I loved gym club till puberty hit and those nylon leotards made me want to hide. As an adult, I was baffled that anyone would want to run around a field with a ball or stick. I’ve always liked watching cricket – tea and cake are properly timetabled in, and as a person of Indian origin it’s practically the law. And how wonderful it was to see our women’s cricket team playing here in Bristol this summer and going on to win the World Cup. But run around in trainers myself? No!
That is, until the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign came along to inspire women and girls to get into sport. It coincided with me attending a course for women with breast cancer. As I sat with 49 other women at Southmead Hospital the message of ‘This Girl Can’ really kicked in. Adding two extra hours of moderate to vigorous activity to my week could make a big difference to whether or not we’d get cancer again. That did it.
So I went for a run with my sister-in-law. And learnt about happy hormones! Who knew? She did! As do Women in Sport, a fantastic organisation bringing women and girls into sport at all levels. Their research shows women do less sport than men - we’re losing out on the benefits. Just 150 minutes per week – or half an hour five days per week – will make a huge difference. It's especially effective if you start between the ages of 14 and 21, but it’s never too late.
Since that first one, I’m now at three weekly runs; I took part in my first 5k race – the Race for Life on the Downs, in a time I never thought I would do (38 minutes); I walked the 14 miles Gower Coast MacMarathon in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care last September, which gave me a real boost after a year of cancer treatment and raised money for Macmillan. This September I’m doing their 22-mile walk – wish me luck! If you want to sponsor me, you can find my fundraising page on my website.
A recent inspiring visit to meet women involved in Empire Fighting Chance and Bristol Boxing in Easton convinced me I can add in a weekly exercise class. And let’s all take inspiration from a fabulous summer of women’s sport – with great team performances in cricket, football, rugby and athletics.
Getting more exercise might not mean champion times, or a perfectly toned set of abs, but it might, and it will definitely make your life better! Why not join me?