How exercise can transform your life


I have previously written openly in this blog about my struggle with anxiety and the multitude of benefits running has had, both on my life in general, and on my mental health. I was excited to be approached several weeks back by a representative from Activ8rlives a healthcare company whose ambition is to provide everyone with the understanding and the tools to manage long-term health conditions themselves through self-monitoring.

When I received an initial email from Activ8rlives the thing that jumped out at me, and why I leapt at the chance to get to know more about the company and to have the opportunity to review one of their products, was that the fact that they, like me, share the belief that exercise can transform a life, and considerably enhance an individual’s physical and mental health.

I’ve spoken before about how running has changed my life, and how I found it at a time when I was feeling particularly low. It has given me so much, from a reason to get up in the morning, to an ever-changing goal to strive for, to the belief that I can achieve the seemingly impossible, the courage to try, the determination not to give up, and the confidence and humility to, if I fail, brush myself off and try again. Beyond that, it has given me a release, a (metaphorical) place go to, and something that I do just for me.

Running helped pull me through what was a particularly trying time for me, due to work stress and anxiety, as recently as last year. It has become a constant in my life, a priority, as crucial as getting enough sleep, or drinking enough water. Without running, for me, there is no doubt about it, I would be a sadder and more stressed out person.

Activ8rlives work with work with patients and groups that need help to improve their health, wellness, manage long-term conditions and improve their mental health and resilience. They work on a range of products which aim to encourage those who are currently less active or recovering from illness to engage in physical activity. One of these, which I was fortunate enough to receive to try out, is the BuddyBand2. What’s important for me to point out is that athletes, or indeed people who workout a few times a week such as myself, are not the target audience of this product. It is not, and nor is it intended to be, a substitute for your running watch. Its primary focus is upon people just starting out on their fitness journey, or returning to exercise after a break.

What it is, however, is, an affordable, easy to use, attractive and/or discreet (depending on whether you use one of the coloured straps, or the belt clip) way of tracking your steps and your calories, which can be used on a daily basis by just about anyone. It has a built-in sleep monitor which I find fascinating (even though it depresses me somewhat!), and I’ve set my BuddyBand to ‘nudge’ me after 30 minutes of inactivity (a good practise I think when working in an office at a desk). And whilst I can’t testify (yet) that the device can withstand the 2 metres and 30 minutes submerged in water as it claims to (I’ve put swimming as a form of cross-training on hold for a while) I can vouch for it withstanding unscathed a heavy downpour of rain!

Personally, whilst I will still use my FitBit blaze to track my running and workout activities, I have found the BuddyBand2 to be a convenient, lightweight and subtle alternative for day-to-day step tracking use. Something I enjoyed about it, by contrast to some of its competitors, was the ease with which I was able to set it up. I’m not exactly famed for my ability to follow instructions (!), but these ones were clear, step by step, and to the point. Post charge, I was able to have it up and running in a matter of minutes.

There are a number of features of the BuddyBand2 I’ve not yet fully explored such as the Groups you can join surrounding a specific interest. To give you an idea, I am currently a member of the ‘abs not flabs’ group which sports the description ‘fun, tough, and smart girls will join.’ OBVS. You can set up a group of your own to engage with others around a certain topic, or you can set up a group to post with other members of your friendship circle or workplace.

It struck me that BuddyBand2 would be great if you had a specific health related goal. Particularly if it concerns your steps per day, your meal choices, or your weight. It allows you to enter details of every meal you eat, record its calories, fat content and mark the meal as a good or a bad choice. You can then track the % of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ choices you are making, alongside the calories you are burning, your weight, your daily steps, and you BMI.

As for my own BuddyBand2, I will be properly putting it through it’s paces in a couple of weekends time when I undertake The South Coast Challenge, and attempt to complete this 100Km walk in 24 hours. Yes, I have walked 100km before. Yes, I did say never again. And no, I don’t know what’s wrong with me either, but…wish me luck!