Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness - (Lord Edward Stanley (Former and three time Prime Minister) 1799-1869)
Our bodies are fundamentally designed to move. In fact, more than this, they need to.
Movement is linked to every function and process in the human body and is essential for health and vitality.
Ask yourself; have you ever known a fit, healthy person who doesn’t move? And move a lot?
As Gray Cook describes it in his book Movement, the key is to ‘move well and move often’
We all, to a greater or lesser degree, have this gift; it is part of our DNA; over time, evolution perfected it to allow us to thrive as nomadic hunter-gatherers, upright and on the move to find, gather and prepare our food. This ability to move is what took us to the top of the food chain and advanced us to where we are today.
But fast-forward to the 21st century; to our labour-saving devices, seated commutes, deskbound careers, computer games and boxed-sets on demand and there is little, if any hunter-gatherer activity going on!
UK Statistics show that as little as 33 per cent of adult males, and 23 per cent of adult females meet both the aerobic and muscle strengthening guidelines for physical activity.
The Information Age has given rise to the Sedentary Age and many experts believe that this is one of the fundamental, underlying causes for the rise in obesity and chronic diseases.
This seems something of a paradox given that we live in a culture obsessed with exercise and diet! The Fitness industry in the UK alone is worth in excess of £4 billion. Over 9 million of us have membership to a fitness facility of one form or other.
And yet we read about physical decline, obesity and chronic disease becoming more and more prevalent. Clearly, we just aren’t moving enough. And to add insult to injury, we seem to be spending a fortune to achieve this.
A raft of irrefutable evidence exists demonstrating the effectiveness of regular physical activity in the prevention of numerous chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis) and premature death; or put another way; insufficient physical activity over time increases the chances of having both a reduced quality of life, as well as lifespan. It’s that simple
As is how we achieve levels of physical activity for good health. It is less the need to ‘go to the gym’, fitness class or run ourselves into the ground for hours at a time, and more ‘blending lots of low-level movement with intermittent bouts of higher-intensity efforts’ according to Mark Sisson, author of Primal Blueprint. To quantify this, follow an 80/20 rule for success; 80 percent of exercise at low intensity and 20 per cent at higher intensity. It works for many elite athletes, and so it can for you.
Raising our heart rate, adding an occasional bit of perspiration and some resistance exercise for 30 minutes, five times a week and we have hit what is required to achieve ‘healthy’ fit. This can be achieved through walking, running, swimming, dancing, hard house work, bodyweight exercises or active play. Gym membership is not mandatory.
But somehow the message around something which, at its very core, is so very simple, got so very complicated. We need to reclaim a simple, varied and intuitive approach to exercise and physical activity; find various pursuits you like enough to ensure you get active, keep doing so and, quite frankly, do more of it.
So get up, get out there and get moving. Your life may depend on it.
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Fitzgerald, M., (2014) Train at the right intensity ratio: Elites spend 80 percent of their miles going easy. Why you should too. [online] in Runner’s World; 28th October, 2014 at: http://www.runnersworld.com/rt-web-exclusive/train-at-the-right-intensity-ratio
Fitzgerald, M., (2015) 80/20 running: Run longer and race faster by training slower [Kindle Edition] Penguin Books: London
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