I’m transfixed with the amazing young people competing in the Olympics. As I watch, I realize that sport wasn’t encouraged in the environment I grew up in and it felt that athletes and sports people lived in an alternative universe to the one I inhabited. And when I think back to the specimens of manhood that were available as potential boyfriends, they certainly never matched up to the honed and focused individuals we see competing to be the best. Hindsight! The gorgeous ones must have been spending all their time in various sporting clubs and centres. Never mind.
Its never too late to start being active
But for those of us that missed the boat first time round, its never to late to hopefully start being active. Perhaps the Olympic legacy might inspire us or offer us the chance to dip our toes in and have a go. With all the excitement going on it is more than likely you might have missed some very important reports that have been published in the last couple of weeks. The first, published in the Lancet claims that physical inactivity is now a pandemic and the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. The link between lifestyle and health is well documented but health messaging does not appear to be effective. This point was explored by a report on ‘sport and exercise science and medicine’, from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee who criticize the coalition’s lack of coherence in their present approach to health awareness through exercise. It notes:
* Health minister ‘only interested in increasing participation in sport, not using sport to improve the nation’s health’.
* Survey of 48 GP’s showed none of them knew the latest Physical Activity guidelines
* The National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine which is part of the Olympic legacy, was funded by Government with £30m capital investment, has no strategy and is not sustainable.
Lord Krebs, Chair of the committee said,
“We are particularly concerned that the sport minister did not accept any responsibility to use sport to improve public health, and so we are not convinced that the Olympic legacy will, as promised, help the nation be healthier, happier and more active”.
Finally, the Royal College of Physicians published ‘Exercise for Life’ recognizes that much work is to be done to incorporate exercise as a routine treatment in helping chronic disease, and how a collaborative approach amongst health professionals is needed to improve a health agenda.
I think its very interesting that these quite weighty reports all appear at the pinnacle of sport awareness for many years in this country and that the topic of the Olympic legacy should offer us ALL an opportunity to improve our health through exercise, not just the young. I will be watching this conversation with great interest.