For people stressed or intimidated by fitness culture
In the United States, I’m often bombarded with images and ads of fitness culture. Athleisure is the craze, and it seems that the majority of people are members of gyms like Anytime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, or LA Fitness. Any decent hotel or typical college campus has free access to a gym, sometimes even offering workout clothes for rental. It’s the land of Alo Yoga and the birthplace to Crossfit. The most successful online influencers write about fitness, and it’s not uncommon to see someone share their workout on social media as they would their food.
But in contrast to that, for a country that is a leader in longevity and has very low rates of obesity — the least among high-income developed nations at 4.3% — you might be surprised to find that there is not much of a workout culture in Japan. Athleisure is not a big thing, and not many people have a membership to a gym. People would rarely use their lunch break for a gym session, and those who do are probably seen as exercise zealots.
In a recent Rakuten Insight survey of 1000 Japanese citizens ages 20 to their 60s, about half of those questioned revealed that they barely exercised, about once a month or not at all. Citing not enough time or simply that they don’t like exercising that much, most people just didn’t see working out as part of their lifestyle.
Monty Don, Britain’s most treasured horticulturalist and broadcaster, and Sue Stuart–Smith, prominent psychiatrist and psychotherapist, reflect on the life-affirming capacity of gardening and nature to soothe troubled minds in our disturbing world. Sue Stuart-Smith’s TheWell Gardened Mind is an inspirational investigation into the effects of gardening and green spaces on our health and well-being. Monty Don’s My Garden World is a personal journey through the natural year. His most recent publication, American Gardens, includes Middleton Place in Charleston, South Carolina.
With four-week lockdown restrictions in place across England and a ‘new normal’ Christmas season looming, it’s not always easy to stay positive.
To help us all feel more joyful, we spoke to the team at Mind for their expert-approved tips on staying positive. From heading outside to talking to loved ones over the phone, there are many things you can do to keep your spirits high.
“We’ve all had to make relatively sudden and big changes to our lifestyle, including our work. Adjustments to our routine, unfamiliarity and uncertainty can stir up a range of emotions, and affect our wellbeing,” Rosie Weatherley, Mind’s Information Content Manager, tells Country Living.
“It’s vital that we’re all taking steps to look after our own mental health at the moment, as well as keeping an eye out for loved ones”
More than half of the growing global population now live in cities and towns, and in the UK and many other countries in the global north that figure exceeds 80%. As a consequence, most people are now physically distant from the production of food.
Urban horticulture – growing fruits and vegetables within cities and towns – can support biodiversity and improve health and wellbeing. It can also reconnect the urban population with food production, and make a potentially important contribution to food security.
Allotments – plots of land leased to individuals to grow fruit and vegetables – could play a key role in increasing urban food production. Our research shows that although they have seen a significant fall since their peak in the 1950s, allotments still make an important contribution to local food security. There is also the potential to greatly increase this contribution.
Growing our own food is not just important for physical exercise but it can be an important source of fresh fruit and vegetables at a time of uncertainty for the food supply chain. Here Sofia Parente explains why community growing spaces and allotments should be supported by councils and landowners to grow safely during the lockdown and for the duration of this crisis.
Despite the spike in the interest in growing our own food shown by growth in sales of seeds and compost and reports from national charities such as Garden Organic and the RHS, this is a time of uncertainty for many allotment holders and community food growing spaces. In a recent survey undertaken by Sustain to growing spaces of the Capital Growth and Good to Grow networks, 70 per cent were hoping to keep growing but almost 20 per cent said that they will grow less than usual this year and almost 10 per cent said they were unsure whether they are growing anything at all this year. All this is happening against a backdrop of huge uncertainty about who will pick our crops and the UK’s ongoing reliance on imported fruit and vegetables.
Care farming in the UK can help the agricultural community to remain viable and facilitate public interaction with the natural environment. It can also be therapeutic because it can address a range of public health and service provision issues by engaging people in farming activities and improving their health, social and educational circumstances. This paper presents the findings from a UK qualitative study exploring what care farming staff feel are the aims and potential outcomes of the experience they provide with their clients.
Insights from the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic
A Report from Groundwork
The pandemic has highlighted the positive power of community action, but the voluntary groups and organisations we rely on for a vast range of local services have been massively impacted by restrictions. Just as we continue to help businesses through the crisis we need to recognise that this ‘social infrastructure’ of community organisations also needs support. If we want to ‘build back better’ then having a thriving network of organisations able to help keep our neighbourhoods safe, healthy and green needs to be a critical part of the plan.
Graham Duxbury, Groundwork CEO
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on every section of society. This research looks at the experiences of grassroots community groups during spring and summer 2020: how they have been affected by the impact of the virus, how they have responded to support their communities, and how they can be empowered to continue playing a key role in their neighbourhoods through the next phase of the crisis and recovery.
Community groups have been severely impacted by Covid-19 with many pausing activities, losing income and having fewer volunteers available
Despite this, most say there is more need for their services in their communities than there was before lockdown
The pandemic has created a wide range of practical and emotional challenges including greater reliance on technology, maintaining contact with people and dealing with uncertainty
Community groups have responded in creative and resourceful ways
Groups have been particularly active in more disadvantaged areas
Confidence about continuing in the future is lower than it was before the pandemic, but most feel they have the potential to play a role in the recovery
What community groups say they need most is access to funding
This research draws on three sources of information: a survey of 2,658 community groups conducted in June 2020, in-depth telephone interviews with representatives of 103 community groups, and analysis of data about activities supported through the Tesco Bags of Help Covid-19 Community Fund between April and September 2020.