Fitness First

By Andy Mouncey, December 14, 2018

At the end of last year the MoJ ordered a review into the role of sport in rehabilitation and resettlement. The review is led by Professor Rosie Meeks and is due to report shortly. In advance of that Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC gives his take on why physical fitness should be put at the heart of rehabilitation.

I periodically field enquiries from folks in the business and education worlds on this whole health-wellbeing-stress reduction thing – and in the last year or so this has included the Justice sector as well:

What to do and be effective? What to start with? And how to know if it’s working?

Over the years I’ve spent countless hours developing detailed workshop content for a whole range of related health topics so that my extensive portfolio now looks like this:

Topic: Stress Management

Workshop Response: Take Some Exercise


Topic: Staff Wellbeing

Workshop Response: Take Some Exercise


Topic: Weight Management

Workshop Response: Take Some Exercise

You get the idea.

Because here’s the thing: You can have the worlds’ most comprehensive program of interventions on wellness-health-smoking cessation-diet-addiction-stress-people performance-education & leadership and all that but unless you have FITNESS at the top of the list the whole thing will take longer, be more complicated, and tracking cause-effect will be a damn sight harder.

So it’s Fitness First – here’s why:

• Progress is easily measured and it’s fast in the early stages – and when Confidence Is The Currency this is crucial

• Fitness is a Force Multiplier – other stuff falls into line faster and easier once fitness gains are made: It’s the ‘What Else? What Next? If I Can Do That…’ effect

• Fitness teaches Cause & Effect and Body-Mind connection. ‘Disinterested and no energy? Missed breakfast again, huh? And you know a workout before class means you can concentrate on your studies…

• Fitness and sport is a playground for real life. We get to practice skills for life in a safe supportive environment governed by made up rules we’ve all bought into. That means that when we stuff it up it doesn’t hurt as much because the stakes are lower – but the learning is as powerful if we have the wit and skills to pull the lessons

• Fitness moves you from feeling powerless to powerful: It’s your body (and mind) which means only you have made those improvements – and for someone where exploitation and dependency for example, has been the norm – this is the biggie

All of which means that while fitness is an end in itself it’s real power is in the Means: What it can lead to, what it makes possible, what it makes easier. So in rehabilitation and re-education this means that it is best used to break the destructive patterns and get folks – client groups and staff - ready and receptive to get the most from learning, training, employment – and their close personal relationships.

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