Getting Active Regardless of Ability
Most adults are aware that getting active has its benefits, usually stating its association with weight loss as its biggest advantage.
However the positive effects of getting active are much greater than simply dropping a jean size. It is the miracle cure we have always had, reducing risk of major illness such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50%.
“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost effective drugs ever invented”
– Dr Nick Cavill, health promotion consultant
So it seems pretty conclusive exercise is good for us. But how active are we? The guidelines state we should be doing 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, that’s around 30 minutes five days a week. In England, only 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 5 men reach this target.
Sedentary lifestyles – a modern problem
Technology has made our lives a lot easier. We entertain ourselves in front of computer screens or the TV. Household chores, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding nowadays compared to previous generations. Sedentary behaviour is not simply a lack of physical activity, it is spending too much time in positions that do not use energy. More than 40% of women and 35% of men spend more than six hours a day desk-bound or sitting still. How can we change this?
When people think of exercise, most people immediately imagine a gym based environment or an overcrowded exercise class. Whilst those environments naturally lend themselves as convenient places to exercise, physical activity does not have to be gym based.
Good news – exercise is free!
Incorporating activity into daily life can be as simple as walking instead of driving somewhere. If a car is necessary, parking furthest away in the car park allows for a brisk walk even before you arrive at your destination!
The activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to be effective. Brisk walking, swimming or even a spell of gardening for 30 minutes a day will produce health benefits. Whilst sport is of course advantageous, informal exercise such as dancing can be just as beneficial as going to the gym. If you feel your heart rate increase, you are breathing quicker and feel warm – the activity is benefiting your health!
Physical activity has been seen to decline with age, with only 1 in 20 women and 1 in 10 men active enough at 75. People living with a disability are half as likely as non – disabled people to be active. Some fear the risk of injury or falls when exercising, however getting active is safe and beneficial.
Time to get moving!
If the prospect of getting active seems a little overwhelming, there are various schemes that can guide you through. The Couch to 5K gives a week-by-week running plan for beginners and is free to download. This Girl Can is a nationwide campaign to get women and girls moving, regardless of shape, size and ability.
Locally, Health Walks are a great way to meet new people and explore the Somerset countryside all whilst getting active! Some leisure centres in the county have 50yr + sessions and disability swim sessions. With all these resources to hand, there are so many ways get involved and most importantly get moving!
If you are interested to know how your current physical activity levels add up or to discuss how you can start to get active with a health check consultant, book in for your free NHS health check here.