#opiskelijanturvana: Physically active lifestyle through values and acceptance.

Have you ever thought that a physically active lifestyle can be achieved not only through muscle or aerobic training but with your mind as well?

For many of us the constant preaching of a healthy life and of our own daily lives that barely give us time to exercise causes a feeling of quilt. Wellness and Sports Centers constantly bombard us with marketing material that depicts lean muscled bodies which instills a thought that it’s not meant for me. Only a lean athletic person could possess such self-discipline, which I lack, and therefore I have no chance in a lifestyle change.

Emotions and thoughts regarding exercise can be so negative that starting an active lifestyle is seen as a fight against oneself and the circumstances. As time goes by we get used to the idea of a constant fight that in turn turns into a self created barrier against a healthy life that many strive for.

Thankfully starting an active lifestyle can be made less harrowing. You can become aware of the sports-negative emotions and thought processes and to see their effect in your behavior. It might as well be that you’ve been raised to believe that only a certain type or length of physical activity is beneficial to you. If you’ve got only a 30 minutes or so it’s easier to just not bother, isn’t it? There you’re acting according to a learned behavioural model, when in reality even a little step would be beneficial.

These types of self-imposed rules and negative emotions mentioned above affect our behaviour to a surprisingly large extent. In these situations we identify ourselves with our emotions and act accordingly in an automatic fashion. But as muscle grows with regular exercise you can rid yourself of the negative thought processes and behavioural processes as well. Once the inner struggle ends, starting physical exercise usually turns easier.

The depicted approach to promoting exercise in higher education is called value and acceptance based method. This spring, the Finnish Student Sports Federation (OLL) has joined Zone sports services in the capital region in piloting this kind of exercise counseling service which focuses on values and acceptance. The reception by the clients was very positive: 92 per cent of them felt that the contents of the service matched their expectations fairly or very well.

The continuation of this service is currently being figured out with Zone Sports Services. Until then it is possible to strive for wellbeing that suits you for example with online material.

You can check what else Finnish Student Sports Federation does for Students wellbeing at:

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Anni Liina Ikonen
Special Advisor for University Sport
Finnish Student Sports Federation