• Genevieve Temple

Improve your health with this ancient trick

If there was something easy you could do to reduce heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%, would you do it? How about if it helped improve your immune system, sleep, balance, coordination, self-confidence, mood & motivation? How about it if helped you maintain or achieve a healthy weight? What if it reduced stress & depression & your risk of dementia & Alzheimer’s. What if it made you feel good?

Sounds like a miracle drug doesn’t it? But it’s 100% natural, not new & not a fad. It’s something we have evolved to do and yet our modern lifestyles often cause us to forget our evolutionary heritage and not do enough.

Of course, you guessed it. I'm talking about Movement. Physical activity. What our bodies were designed to do.

A 2011 UK government report (1), “Start Active, Stay Active,” found that in England only 40% of men and 28% of women do the recommended amount of physical exercise. In Wales the figures are: 36% male, 23% female; Scotland 43% male, 32% female, Northern Ireland 33% male, 28% female.

Frighteningly, it’s often less in children (1). In England only 32% of boys & 24% of girls aged 2-15 get the recommended exercise a day. In Wales the figures are: 63% boys, 45% girls (4-15yo); Scotland 76% boys, 67% girls (2-15yo); Northern Ireland 19% boys, 10% girls (8-12yo).

So what are the current UK guidelines?

Adults should aim to be active daily with at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week. Activity to improve muscle strength should be done on at least two days a week (2).

Children aged 5-18 should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. Exercise that strengthens muscle and bone should be done at least three days a week (3). In all cases, time spent being sedentary & sitting should be minimised (4).

If physical activity is something you’ve avoided, then start small and work up to these levels. Start with walking. Gruelling hours in the gym are not the aim. Enjoyable exercise is. Exercise in nature, join a fitness group or try a specific physical activity that interests you. If you need more motivation, find a Personal Trainer and perhaps enrol with a friend. Try to eliminate the excuses and make time. Prioritise moving more. Your health will thank you.

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