By now, it’s more or less been proved what’s bad for our health.
Smoking. Drinking too much alcohol. Eating the wrong quantities of the wrong foods.
And most of us try to do our very best to guard against them (let’s forget about those Gin & Tonics and the Stilton Cheese shall we?)
However, there’s another lifestyle factor out there that the NHS says is as harmful as smoking and almost twice as deadly as obesity. It’s killing 676.000 people in the UK each year according to research from Cambridge University – and contributing to a plethora of diseases.
This is Inactivity – and it’s an epidemic now, one that’s just not going away. Some people are going so far as to call it ‘The Sitting Disease ’- and when you read the facts, it’s shocking just how inactive, as a nation we really are.
The NHS reckons we spend an average of 9 hours a day just sitting. At desks, in cars, on mobile phones.
The British Heart Foundation published a report in 2017 with another rather depressing list of statistics
- The average man spent the equivalent of 78 days each year sitting – the average woman wasn’t much better, spending 74 days.
- Around 20 million adults in the UK were physically inactive
- Ofcom reported that the average UK adult spent almost 30 hours a week just watching TV
What’s even more sobering is that the health implications are so serious. Inactivity is a huge contributor to conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Doing nothing as we get older can lead to osteoporosis (bone loss), as well as exacerbating the effects of age-related muscle loss – also known as sarcopenia. It can also make us more prone to anxiety and depression. In fact, Inactivity is costing the NHS around 1.2 billion each year.
Move it…don’t lose it
At last…the good news. You can take measures to ward off this sad state of affairs – and it’s as simple as getting off your bottom!
Aim to be physically active each and every day. The NHS recommends that we do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities a week. (39% of us are failing to do this – so get into the 61% who do).
Examples of moderate activity include brisk walking, dancing and swimming. You should also do exercise that strengthens muscles and aids balance, such as yoga, resistance training and tai chi. Introduce some variety into your pursuits and try to do lots of different ones. The body and brain love something new!
However, one deliberate, organised activity each day isn’t the whole story. The optimal way to exercise and do your 150 minutes is to remain active in short bursts throughout the morning, afternoon and evening – and you can do this in small, conscious ways.
You could take up gardening or wash the car yourself. Or when you’re on the phone, stand up whilst you’re doing it and take a small stroll around. If you’re at work, spending hours on front of your computer (or in these days of COVID, working from home), ensure that you take periodic rests and have a quick walk. Take stairs rather than lifts, walk rather than drive whenever possible and stretch your legs in ad breaks when watching TV.
If all of that sounds just a bit of an undertaking – you only have to think of all the benefits you’ll be enjoying.
Keeping physically active can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by as much as 35%, reducing the risk of early death by as much as 30%.
It can also
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Help you control your weight
- Improve your mental health
- Enhance your cognitive abilities
- Allow longer, better quality sleep
Isn’t all that worth just a little bit of effort?
To discuss the benefits of being active on your body, contact Suzette Pulman