Health & Well-being13th October 2013

Exercise - it might save your life

The modern day lifestyle is largely sedentary, so exercise is more important now than ever

by Sarah Lawrence

It is the miracle prevention for a wide range of illnesses and ailments that we have all been waiting for – Exercise! Or to use another word – Activity!

Being active can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50%, and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. It can be free, easy to hard, enjoyable, social, and has an immediate effect.

Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but many of us have neglected to take our recommended dose for too long. We all know someone whose health is suffering as a consequence of leading too sedentary a lifestyle, but whatever your age, there is strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life. Don’t we owe it to our loved ones to be around to help, support and enjoy them for as long as possible?

People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Health benefits - Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be physically active. It is essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life, to a ripe old age. It is medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

What counts? - The bottom line is, any exercise or activity is better than none. If you are working in an office all day, it is better to get up and walk around every now and again, or lift yourself repeatedly in your seat using your arms. Raise your legs off the floor and kick for small periods of time. No matter what your normal daily environment is, you can easily introduce activity into your routine. Use stairs instead of lifts. Go up and down stairs twice when you are using them, just for the fun of it! Use the bottom step to do 10 step ups, every time you are going to use the stairs. If you are waiting for a kettle to boil, do some simple push-ups on the edge of the counter.

The opportunities to introduce increased activity into your daily routine are endless and all without stepping a single foot inside a gym. It is just a matter of thinking about it.

Moderate intensity aerobic activity it better for you. This means you are working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break into a sweat. One way to tell if you are working at a moderate intensity, is whether you can breath normally, or have to breath more heavily. Examples of moderate intensity aerobic activities are:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills
  • playing doubles tennis

A modern problem - People are less active nowadays, partly because technology has made our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. Machines wash our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen. Fewer people are doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. Work, house chores, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.

Recommended physical activity levels

  • Children under 5 should do 180 minutes every day.
  • Young people (5-18) should do 60 minutes every day.
  • Adults should do 150 minutes every week

Because of the change in our lifestyles, we move around less and burn off less energy than people used to. Research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down, at work, on transport or in their leisure time. People aged over 65 spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. To maintain good general health, it is important that people take action through the introduction of simple activity routines to change that.

Sedentary lifestyles - Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health. Spending hours sitting down watching TV or playing computer games is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity.

Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down. People of all ages should reduce their sedentary behaviour.

Crucially, you can hit your weekly activity target but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down.

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Health & Well-being

13th October 2013