There is no getting away from it; the UK is developing into a very unhealthy nation and the unhealthiest country in Europe.
It is predicted that if things continue, by 2050 over 60% of the population will be morbidly obese. Children will be dying before their parents and the NHS will collapse, unable to cope with the increase in ill health.
Over the past 50 years there has been a huge increase in the consumption of fatty fast foods and it is very easy to blame this for the situation but historians point out that during the 1940’s and 50’s calorie intake was more or less the same as today. So that leaves just one reason for the obesity epidemic, the lack of physical activity. Fifty years ago there was no computers, people walked or cycled to work, clothes washing was done by hand; there was more manual work with men working down the pits and in steel foundries. There was even conscription were young teenagers were compulsory called up to serve in one of the armed forces for two years were they went through rigorous basic training. Being physical back then was part of life there was no alternative. If you want proof look at old newsreel of the time, you will see few if any fat people. Look at the news today and you will see few thin people.
The problem is that if you have never been physical or you have got out of the habit of being physical it is very difficult to get back into it again. There is a fear that exercise is going to hurt. That muscles will burn, the heart will pound and feeling dizzy and nauseas is all part of the experience. The 1980’s didn’t help with Jane Fonda and feel the burn. This builds up a psychological barrier that is very difficult to overcome.
However latest research has proved that we should change our conception of exercise and physical activity and if we can get these new ideas across it could considerably improve the health of the nation.
The American College of Sports Medicine, one of the worlds most respected institutions and the US Centre of Disease Control joined forces to look into just how much physical activity is required to improve health and the findings were surprising and good news for any sedentary person who is thinking of changing their lifestyle.
It was found that 30 minutes of accumulative moderate physical activity or exercise done every day has the same effect on overall health as long sessions of vigorous activity. It is important to note the word accumulative. It appears that short bursts of moderate activity say 3 x 10 minute sessions a day has the same effect as 30 continuous minutes of fast running or aerobics.
Any kind of physical activity seems to work from normal daily chores such as climbing stairs or vacuuming the house to the obvious such as exercising on a crosstrainer, treadmill, rower or exercise bike. As long as it all adds up to 30 minutes a day health can be improved considerably.
Some of the more unexpected results showed that 30 minutes a day broken down into short bursts of activity actually has a greater effect on boosting the ratio of good cholesterol to bad, than a long hard session and it still lowers a mans risk of heart attack and death compared to their sedentary counterparts. It was also found that men who did three times this amount of exercise were no better protected from a heart attack. Astonishingly, walking just one mile a day can cut your risk of a stroke by 30%, walk more that one-mile a day and this rises to 50%. Any activity counts, standing for one hour a day instead of sitting can burn an additional 20 calories an hour.
So what do you achieve by vigorous exercise? Well you will build muscle more effectively and muscle burns calories more efficiently helping you reach your goals quicker, but for physical and metal improvement you do not have to do this.
Things to remember:
1) The less fit you are the less exercise is required to improve your fitness.
2) It is the cumulative effect so it does not matter how brief you activity is or how many times you are active as along as it all adds up to 30 minutes a day.
3) Physically active people out live sedentary people by 7 years on average.