There is a lot of focus these days on being active, moving more and generally resisting the temptation to be....how to put it?...lazy.
Whilst I agree with the ‘move it or lose it’ ethos in principle, is there something to be said for sometimes, just sometimes, throwing in the (gym) towel in favour of some unadulterated idleness?
Doing nothing is a concept that has never had particularly positive connotations, but the '#instafit' generation have taken ‘sofa shaming’ one step further. It's no longer just a guilty pleasure to have a lazy day, or a duvet day...it’s actually social taboo. Off the back of this, the most conscientious of us are now lifting, running and burpeeing to the limit in a bid to keep up with the gym-bunny Jones’. No wonder Pure Gym recorded a 50 per cent jump in membership this May!! In a society that is obsessed with fighting the ‘obesity epidemic’, the trend is not surprising. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we’re only winning when we’re spinning! .
The problem with this is two fold. Firstly, there are the risks that come with overdoing it, and secondly, there’s the wellbeing price of the guilt now attached to down time and rest days.
So why has rest developed such bad rep? Scroll through Instagram and you’d be forgiven for thinking everyone who’s anyone is working out...all of the time, sending a subconscious message to keep active at all costs. Not only this, in an age of fitness sharing, there is much more to be gained from a workout than the physical benefits and adrenaline high. Posting a snap shot of the perfect headstand, plank, or 10k action shot carries the reward value of all those digital thumbs ups, which are in some cases more satisfying than the actual achievement itself. The motivational go-to that is social media may have plenty of positives, but the negative side is that it can not only perpetuate negative relationships with exercise, but also disguise them under the veil of a filter and heathy living hashtag. It is partly for this reason that exercise addiction and orthorexia are not only increasingly common, but widely undiagnosed.
The reality is, we all need rest and the opportunity to recharge our batteries through the power of doing nothing. Similarly, we deserve the right to not feel guilty about it. Working out may be healthy and confidence boosting, but the line between a healthy active lifestyle and an unhealthy one is a fine one. Instagram may have seen to it that abs are a modern marker for health, but let’s not forget the equally valid health connotations of ‘vegging out’ - so to speak.