The Olympics are on now in the UK but research by the Federal University of Pelotax in Brazil found that we are one of the most indolent nations on earth. The University found that society seems to be moving to less activity but greater food consumption. British people have lower levels of activity than the US, France and the Republic of Ireland. Activity is classed as meeting the minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity (a brisk walk) at least 5 days a week, then 20 minutes of vigorous activity 3 times a week. These two individually or a combination of the two every week is counted as an effective activity level. A whopping rate of 63% in the UK are inactive, 41% in USA are inactive, 71% in Malta are inactive (Malta has the honour of having the most inactive people in the world) and Greece has a much lower inactive rate of 16%. The UK is very near to winning and being one of the most inactive peoples on earth. I almost felt like not writing this blog…..
I remember once when I was at school. I had asked a really brilliant English Literature teacher what exercise she did. She replied, “When I feel the need to exercise, I sit down and wait until that need passes’ and then she laughed. This often happens and I still do not know how to react. Do I keep quiet? Or laugh, hoping they are just kidding. I usually do the latter. So many people do not seem to exercise. Even more worrying are that only 20% of those in the 15 to 18 year age group exercise. There used to be compulsory gym activity at school. This is now often ignored and not put within the school’s curriculum.
It is harder to start any healthy habit and takes more effort initially. A friend who started going to the gym told me the hardest thing for her was remembering her gym-kit and towel. Sometimes she would forget one or the other and it took her awhile to buy three sets of gym kits and towels, then to have them always ready and on hand in a gym bag. She would not leave it to chance and go even if she did not feel like it.
Lack of exercise leads to an increased risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, breast and bowel cancer. Why worry about heart disease? Diabetes? Breast or bowel cancer? Life with heart disease, diabetes, breast and bowel cancer can also be so debilitating. Why add more road-blocks into our own lives? There are enough road-blocks in our everyday life going on without us adding to it.
What much research seems to mention is as to how much mental health improves with physical health. If the body feels better the mind tends to follow. In effect exercise would help you in your ability to deal with personal, social and work life. If the body is very ill, any movement and going out (if possible) is helpful. No all have poor health some do not seem to use the wonderful abilities of their bodies to move and grow.
I always advise people who are depressed and/or anxious (providing they do not suffer from an illness that precludes exercise) to start exercising very slowly and then to increase their levels of movement. To go out and round the block at first, later on to walk and do some shopping, then to slowly move onto other activities. We often think our minds or our bodies seem to work on their own but they are very much interconnected and we need to look after them both. Look after your body as much as you can, it is the only body you will have….and it is this very body which will help you get the medals you value in life.
Time to go now and put the washing machine onto spin.
Hallal, P. C., Andersen, L. B., Bull, F. C., Guthold, R., Haskell, W., & Ekelund, U. (2012). Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects. The Lancet, 380(9838), 247–257. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60646-1