“I know I should but…I don’t have any time/ I’m at my desk 12 hours a day/ I have a house/ husband/ children/ parents/ job/ committees to run/ cockatoo to take to the vet/ I just don’t have any energy”.
There are as many reasons not to exercise as there are people you ask. We all know how important it is to maintain a healthy weight and stay fit and healthy – in fact it’s really easy. All you have to do is eat less and move more. Yet it seems to be the hardest thing in the world for the majority of us. The Chief Medical Officer’s report has just been published and outlines how much physical activity we should be doing:
How much exercise should I be doing?
1. Adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.
2. Alternatively, comparable benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week or a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.
3. Adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
4. All adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.
(Chief Medical Officer’s Report 2011)
If you are now congratulating yourself that you manage to fulfill these criteria then let me add my own congratulations to yours. Keep doing it. The trouble is that most of us don’t and in fact 68% of all adults now fall into the clinical categories of ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ and above, (Health survey for England 2010) and middle age shows to be one of the most vulnerable periods for such problems. Its true, we are at the point in our lives of being responsible providers for and carers of others but it is really important to stop and consider ourselves for a moment.
What exercise can we do in our 50s to prevent future problems?
What we do in our middle age will go a long way to dictating what kind of old age we have. In fact many people in their fifties are already beginning to experience what I call ‘low level’ problems that are mainly the cause of 20-30 years of not eating as well as we should and not doing anywhere near enough exercise. The problems I see regularly in practice include: overweight, back pain, shoulder or neck pain, onset diabetes, cardio vascular problems, high cholesterol, onset of arthritis and onset of osteoporosis, amongst others. These are problems that will not just disappear and are likely to get worse as we age. A decision to do some physical activity and revise our diets at this stage can stave off problems before they start, alleviate and substantially reduce symptoms once they’ve started and even potentially reverse problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Do you want an energised retirement?
I want a happy, busy energized retirement and as well as working to make sure it will be financially secure, I also want to make sure I am as fit as possible to enjoy every single day. Its never too late to start, and if you’ve never been ‘sporty’ don’t let that stop you. Physical activity is as it implies, just move. It doesn’t mean having to run a marathon or becoming a body-builder. It can start with finding more places in your life you can walk or finally stop putting off that thought to learn to swim or take up ballroom dancing or discover what Pilates is.
This health section will be full of suggestions for ways you can gradually and gently become a fitter and healthier you. Remember ‘fit’ is just a decision to do it, the rest is just mechanics. So how about finding a little time to stop, take that first step and think about you.