Lack of exercise is killing as many people as smoking
As Britain is gripped by Olympic fever, health and fitness professionals are hoping the spectacle of the Games makes a more lasting impact on the nation.
A recent report found lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking. Published in The Lancet, the report says a third of adults worldwide do not do enough exercise, resulting in 5.3 million deaths a year from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.
Bournemouth sports physiotherapist Anne-Marie Samuel of Body In Motion is concerned local people do not take exercise seriously enough.
“It’s not just about looking good,” she says. “There is compelling evidence that people are dying which is really very sad when prevention is so easy and so accessible to everyone.”
The Lancet study suggests people in the developed world were least active, with adults in the UK among the worst as nearly two-thirds were judged not to be doing enough exercise.
Anne-Marie’s message is that taking better care of our bodies is not only simple, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time either.
“Exercise is not just about the gym – it could be taking the stairs instead of the lift, gardening, tennis, lawn bowls, walking along the beach or through the park, dancing or yoga. If you make it a weekly event with a friend you will be more likely to do it and to enjoy it.
“We don’t all have to be Olympic athletes, but just doing 40 minutes of moderate exercise a few times a week is enough to significantly reduce your chances of developing a range of preventable diseases.”
And the more intense exercise you do, the less time you need to spend doing it.
“Exercising has nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with living longer – it’s as simple as that,” says Anne-Marie.
“The Olympic Games are wonderfully inspiring to watch, but let’s make sure our enjoyment doesn’t stop at watching sport – let’s get up and move as well!”