Exercise is the miracle cure we have always had, but for too long we have forgotten or neglected to take our recommended dose. As a consequence, our health is now suffering.
This is backed up by the 2018 Public Health England survey that reported people in England were becoming so inactive that 40% of those surveyed aged between 40 and 60 walked briskly for less than 10 minutes a month. This ‘couch potato lifestyle’ could be causing up to 70,000 deaths in the UK annually and with 30 per cent of adults in England spending at least six hours a day being sedentary at work – rising to 37 per cent at weekends, it’s little wonder that sitting down has been labelled as the ‘new smoking’.
Unfortunately for many, we have jobs where we are required to sit for extended periods of the day, which in terms of our health is horrendous.
Even if we go to the gym on a Saturday morning, our complete lack of activity for the week just passed has taken its toll! What is required is to perform low to moderate activity for longer or sustained periods of time, and view being sedentary as the enemy!
Those of you who have been a student or know someone who has will be aware that for many, living from an overdraft becomes a way of life.
The student grant at the start of term puts you back in the black, but within weeks the black turns back to red and you are left pleading to the bank manager.
Starting a career and setting up a home, more often than not extends us all beyond our means.
Fortunately, mortgages, loans and credit cards are to hand to ‘help us’ through the difficult times.
Being tempted to borrow now and pay back later might work for our financial health but can the same can be said of our bodies? We abuse, misuse, or neglect our body in our youth only to repay the debt in our senior years.
Discomfort, illness, poor mobility, and pain are familiar complaints of the 50+ age group. But it does not have to be that way. According to Soren Brage of the University of Cambridge and co- author of the 2018 survey.
“It is never too late to start boosting your longevity with exercise, it’s like putting money in the bank”.
But what if we have never invested, never paid into the health and fitness bank, are we destined to be overdrawn without permission? The movements or lack of that we perform daily along with the food we eat, our lifestyle and attitude to life, can add to this deficit we have created, leaving our physical/emotional body to fluctuate like the stock market and at risk of falling into more debt.
So, where do we make investments and how do we invest wisely? According to a survey by British Military Fitness, as a nation, we spend up to £5.8billion a year on unused fitness memberships and gym equipment. With around 23 % of the UK population possessing a gym membership and only 12 % using the gym regularly at an average cost of £35 per month, that is a lot of poor investing!
Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life. Adding extra years is one thing but adding life to those years is another. Even if you do not start exercising until your senior years, moving more will help boost your energy and maintain your independence as well as all the positive benefits for your mind, mood, and memory.
If we look at the bigger picture and imagine ourselves at 90, still physically active and mentally alert it will draw your attention to the fact that whatever experience we show our body today is going to affect our body tomorrow.
We must prepare for our future now and seek to readdress the imbalances in our lives. If we can take responsibility for our own health and well-being, we will limit the harmful effect that stress, lack of
exercise and sitting can place upon our body, joints and overall health and perhaps repay the debt we owe.
“The first wealth is health.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Prior to establishing the Personal Best, Carl Benton taught Physical Education, coached teams, and ran fitness classes for 10 years in the New Forest. Carl was also a regular contributor to Ultra Fit magazine, writing over 40 articles in collaboration with Pete Cohen.