Brits are ditching the “no pain, no gain” approach to health and fitness in favour of activities they actually get a kick out of.
A study of 2,000 adults found more than eight in 10 consider enjoyment to be the key to long term success of any fitness regime.
More than half (55 per cent) don’t think you should have to suffer through strenuous exercise to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Good mental health is the foundation for physical health according to four in 10 Brits, while 39 per cent attribute doing what you love as being vital for their overall wellbeing.
However, one in six still believe a “no pain no gain” mantra is important, but four in 10 struggle to enjoy getting fit because of strict rules and regimes.
The study, by AXA Health, also revealed contrasting views around what “healthy” actually means with having a clear mind, or simply drinking a smoothie, seen as signs you are in good shape.
But while 48 per cent believe they are healthy if they go for the occasional walk or run, a quarter believe you could only use the term if you push yourself and run regularly.
And 29 per cent think you are only in fine fettle – or truly healthy – if you put in strenuous workouts in the gym.
AXA Health, which commissioned the research following the launch of its Feelgood Health campaign, has partnered with award-winning funny man Jack Whitehall – known for bringing the feel good factor wherever he goes.
Whitehall was set some amusing everyday health challenges, including forest bathing, the act of being calm and quiet amongst the trees – but had primed himself for an outdoor survival encounter.
He was also tasked to exercise without leaving the house sporting some comedy leg stretches, as well as taking miniature pooch Daisy for a stroll.
Dr Annabel Bentley, chief medical officer, AXA Health, who set Jack’s challenges, said: “Health means something different to all of us – only you know what makes you feel good.
“It might mean going for regular runs, or it might be borrowing the neighbour’s dog for a walk.
“It could be gentle stretching or meditation or simply taking time to sit somewhere quietly and switch your mind – and phone – off.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Jack Whitehall, someone we feel brings to life the very essence of Feelgood Health, and we look forward to everyone discovering their own Feelgood Health, whatever that means for them.”
The study also found more than a third of adults would like to feel healthier, but struggle to fit exercise into their lifestyle.
One in five have failed to stick to an exercise or nutrition plan as a result of unachievable goals while 20 per cent thought the plan needed too much time and effort.
And 22 per cent weren’t willing to sacrifice their enjoyment of food and going out for dinner, with 24 per cent simply stating “it wasn’t fun”.
It also emerged that while more than one in six of those polled via OnePoll always watch what they eat in order to lose weight, 17 per cent eat whatever they want, whenever they want.
Dr Annabel Bentley, set Jack Whitehall the challenge to find his own feel good health, by completing a series of challenges to uncover what being healthy should really be about.
Jack Whitehall said: “This is the sort of healthy that isn’t about 5am starts and being shouted at by a personal trainer.
“I know that works for some people, but it’s just not for me.
“Instead, Dr Annabel turns up with a Chihuahua ready for a dog wak. I mean give me that over an ultramarathon any day.
“We did some fun, feel-good challenges to find out the sort of healthy things that anyone can do, things that focus on physical and mental wellbeing.
“Probably quite helpful as well given all the burgers I ate in lockdown. My kind of health – take a look and give them a try.”
To see Jack Whitehall take on his feelgood health challenges and find out your health mindset, click here.
Top 10 things Brits consider ways to be healthy:
1. Getting your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
2. Watching your weight
3. Feeling positive mentally
4. Going for the occasional walk or run
5. Having a clear mind
6. Feeling connected with friends and/or family
7. Having a good appetite
8. Working out in the gym
9. Running frequently
10. Drinking a smoothie