“Being physically active is crucial to good health. If a medication existed that had a similar effect on preventing disease it would be hailed as a miracle cure.”
At a UK Active conference last year one of the speakers brought up a slide with this quote from Professor Liam Donaldson, who was the Government’s Chief Medical Officer in 2010.
The Government’s present guidelines are that adults over 16 should be doing a minimum of 150 minutes of activity per week, but research tells us that 80% of the population do not achieve this.
The nation’s health seems to be heading for a double whammy…obesity levels going through the roof combined with disease and ill-health caused through inactivity rising to worrying levels. Physical inactivity accounts for around 16% of all deaths in adults and the annual cost of inactivity in England is £8.2 billion per year.
With all these dark statistics in public knowledge, why is doing some exercise..and motivating oneself to exercise, so damn hard? There are many reasons but here are some:
1. Like eating and diet, many of us get habits and thoughts about exercise instilled at an early age. Some get put off mainstream sports at school and there are just not enough facilities for people to find a niche sport they like. By the time people are grown up, the “moment for sport” has passed. It then takes a lot of effort for most of us to go along to the local badminton club, for instance, and ask to try it out…even though the welcome would most likely be very warm.
2. A lot of people believe that you either have to be an exercise fanatic or not…there is no in-between. That’s why so many people take out a new gym membership at the start of the year with the good intention of “going every day” without even working out how they can spare the one or two hours required (because realistically that’s how long a gym visit takes). The general “belief” is that exercise is only useful if done a lot and very vigorously!
3. One of the most used excuses for not exercising is the “I just don’t have the time.” Well, it’s true…most of us don’t these days. Whether you are commuting in the car or train, picking your children up from school, sitting at a desk, doing the household chores, there’s just no time!
4. Despite the world being a better place (probably) than forty years ago, there’s no doubt we do less “activity” than we used to. Children don’t tend to walk to school, jobs are less physical and more desk bound, playing fields have all but disappeared etc etc. We drive everywhere and spend what little time we do have on social media or watching the TV.
As a result, we are all becoming inactive and sluggish, and the more inactive we become, the harder it is to actually start doing something beneficial. And, to most people, exerting yourself is a right pain in the ass…no fun at all!
The great news though, is that exercise can be fun and very addictive. Ask the 20% of people who are very active why they do it. Most will say they LOVE doing what they do. It makes them feel amazing, less stressed, sleep better, healthier and more full of life.
So are they just mad? Or do they know something that 80% of us don’t know?
The answer, of course is no and no.
So, if you’re not generally an exerciser, next time you feel you should actually do some, say and do this.
Say: “I want to do some exercise but that does not mean rush to a gym or run 5K”
Then just do something…anything: This could be as little as standing up instead of sitting down! Every hour slowly stand up and sit down 3 times without pushing yourself up. Feel the legs working up and down. If that’s easy, do it ten times and then twenty. And when you finish, we guarantee you’ll feel good! Not only because your body releases endorphins that are “feelgood” hormones, but also because you have achieved something, no matter how small.
Go for a brisk walk…do it after supper and before you sit down and watch some TV…walking is the best exercise out there and it’s totally free!
Get in the habit of using your downtime (watching TV, waiting for the kids to come out of school etc) to do something active (remember… however small) and you’ll find it gets easier and easier and more and more fun…and you’ll be that exercise fanatic before you know it!