KATIE BULMER-COOKE: Working to be more healthy

I'm absolutely buzzing as I write my column this week, after last week delivering the keynote and presenting the awards at the Sunderland Better Health at Work Awards hosted by Amacus at the George Washington Hotel.

As part of my keynote I spoke about what initially inspired me to be more physically active and get into fitness, and for anyone who doesn’t already know this, it was my mam.

My mam has been teaching fitness classes in our city for an epic 30 years, and from being four years old I’d sit in the corner of her classes (in my over sized leotard, playing with my Barbie dolls) watching my mam motivate and instruct over 40 women each session by creating a positive, happy environment, using great music and fun exercise, and it was this message of fun that I emphasised in my keynote.

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For many exercise, fitness and being more active has lost its fun.

It’s become quite serious and, at times, a little too hardcore.

Now I love a tough, intense workout as much as the next gym bunny, but when it comes to engaging the inactive with exercise we can’t be using lines like ‘go hard or go home’ and ‘eat clean, train dirty’, it’s way too off putting.

Instead we should be making people smile while they move and encouraging people to just start with the basics.

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I was so happy to see so many Sunderland based businesses at the Better Heath at Work Awards receiving recognition for their efforts and accomplishments in getting more people within their work places more active and as such creating a healthier, fitter, happier work force.

Some of the campaigns these companies had created were ace.

Berghaus did a smashing job with their Men’s Health programme and it was great to hear Andrew Cooper from Berghaus share the companies’ success stories, I particularly liked the story about the prosthetic testicle (I’ll leave that one to your imagination).

You know how much I blooming love Sunderland, and how health and fitness is my life, so you can only imagine that this event was right up my street.

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The turn-out and uptake for better health at work has been excellent, but it would be great to see even more local businesses getting involved, not just to give something valuable back to staff buy to prevent sickness due to ill health and to increase productivity at work.

The key to making more people, more active, more often is certainly to make exercise feel inclusive, non-elitist, accessible and of course fun just like it was in the nineties when my mam was rocking her lycra and working out to Cher songs.

Now I’m not suggesting that we all don a thong back leotard and a matching hair scrunchie and head down the hair dressers for a full on perm, but haway Sunderland, lets start taking some massive steps towards creating healthier employees and a fitter, more active city!