The UK’s physical activity levels are low with only 66% of England’s men and 56% of women claiming to meet experts’ recommendations. But self-reporting of health behaviour isn’t really to be relied on so the figures may actually be much lower.
Physical activity levels also decline with age, inactivity being one of the leading causes of death in developed countries, responsible for an estimated 22% of CHD, 17% of colon cancer, 15% of diabetes, 13% of strokes and 11% of breast cancer.
It’s never too late to stop with the excuses. Everyone needs at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week for optimum health – and even splitting the time into three 10-minute chunks of moderate-intensity activity a day is beneficial.
Here’s how to start beating the excuses and be honest with yourself:
Between work and children, school and homework, exercise is hard to fit in… but not impossible. We find time for things we value. How? Get up a little bit earlier, give yourself some ‘me time’ instead of watching X programme on TV or exercise while watching the TV instead of lying on the sofa.
Working out actually gives you more energy. Your body makes feel-good hormones (endorphins) and you get your circulation going. Try working out in the morning before your day runs away with you.
Go cycling with your kids, sign up for family fun runs or bike rides or go walking in the neighbourhood. And if the weather’s bad, try active video games like Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Sports and Wii Fit.
Make exercise a priority. Grab a hula-hoop, go bowling… but seize the opportunity. Choose a social activity that gets you moving.
Get yourself into the habit
Commit yourself to exercising for a month. No excuses. After three or four weeks, it will be becoming a habit and you won’t have to think about it. Think about why you want to exercise, set small goals and follow your plan.
If you think you don’t need to exercise, you won’t be motivated. Educate yourself on why exercise is important, even if you’re slim and healthy. It doesn’t mean you don’t need to exercise!
If your diet is poor, you might not have the energy for exercises. Get out of your fast-food habit and ditch the sweets in exchange for wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and healthy protein. You’ll quickly feel more energetic, alert and up for exercise.
Exercise for all
You may be overweight, have a medical condition or feel you’re too old for exercise. Regardless of this, everyone can undertake some exercise. Check with your doctor first and maybe use a personal trainer to develop a tailor-made training programme that suits you.
When you don’t see the results you want, you may become demotivated. Keep going! Exercise changes your body in ways you can’t see – reducing blood pressure, increasing endurance and strength and protecting you from chronic diseases.
Some people don’t exercise because they assume it will result in severe injuries, accidents and pain. People suffering from diabetes, heart disease etc should always see a doctor before taking any rigorous physical activity. Otherwise, it can be totally safe and painless if done with proper guidance.
You’re never too old
Many people don’t exercise because they feel they’re too old to sustain the physical demands of exercise. False. In fact, experts believe that exercising can improve flexibility, stability, strength and endurance whatever your age. And various ailments related to ageing such as diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis can actually be kept at bay with the help of exercise. Remember, you’re not too old to exercise, you’re old because you don’t. There’s no finish line. So just enjoy the ride…