HEALTH AND FITNESS ‘There are many reasons why we can find it hard tostart exercising - our everyday lives require less physicalactivity than in our grandparents day, we rely on cars to get around and spend hours sitting in front of computers.’ Dr Gill Jenkins
KEEPING FITImportance of exercise...• Physical inactivity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, which means if you dont exercise you increase your risk of dying from a heart attack.• However, exercise means a healthier heart because it reduces several cardiovascular risks, including high blood pressure.• Being physically active can increase good mental health and help you to manage stress and anxiety.• Regular exercise is important as you age as it keeps you strong and less dependent on others and will also make you feel happier about your appearance. It has beneficial effects on conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and helps you maintain mobility.• All exercise helps strengthen bones and muscles but exercises, such as running, is especially good in protecting against osteoporosis (a condition in which the bones become fragile from loss of tissue),which affects men as well as women.
Don’t be a statisticConsider the following...• In 2007, the Government predicted that if no action was taken, 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women and 25 per cent of children would be obese by 2050.• Between 1993 and 2008, there has been a marked increase in the proportion of people who were obese, reaching 24 per cent of men and 25 per cent of women in 2008.• Even for youngsters the obesity rates were 17 per cent in 2008 among boys, and 15 per cent in 2008 among girls. By 2010, its predicted 22 per cent of girls and 19 per cent of boys between the ages of two and 15 will be obese, with girls under 11 at particular risk.• Obesity is responsible for 9,000 premature deaths a year in this country, and is a major contributory factor to heart disease.• Coronary heart disease (CHD) is still the leading cause of death in the UK, accounting for about a fifth of all deaths, according to the Office for National Statistics.• About a third of deaths caused by CHD are among people aged under 75.
There are things that are of particular benefit as you get older:• More energy - exercise makes you feel more energetic, while sitting around not doing much makes you feel sluggish and unable to do anything• Improved sleep - your body and mind feel as though theyve done something and are ready for rest at night• Stable weight - regular exercise helps to keep you at a healthy weight• Improved circulation and lower blood pressure• Delayed ageing - keeping active strengthens your muscles, joints and bones as well as helping with mobility and balance• On top of the health benefits, exercise can be an excellent way to meet new people, whether its at a gym, a rambling or running club, or just people you meet while walking the dog.
Finding the right exercise...Walking...• Walking is the simplest and cheapest of all exercises, and making it a regular activity can increase your fitness.• Walking improves the condition of your heart and lungs and works the muscles of the lower body. Its a weight-bearing activity, so it may improve bone density, yet its also low impact, putting less stress on the joints than some other forms of exercise.
If you do little activity at the moment, the following tips can help kick-start your walking programme...• Walk, dont drive, to the local shop. If you have a lot to carry, take a small rucksack.• If you have children, walk them to and from school as briskly as you all can manage.• Get off the bus or train a stop or two early. This will give you some extra daily exercise - and might even reduce your fare.• Take a walk during your lunch hour. Half an hours walk after a meal will cut the amount of fat you store by using it to fuel your exercise.• Once a week take a longer walk along a completely different route to keep things interesting.
Running...• Running is another cheap activity which can be done anywhere, at any time and, most importantly, is very effective.• As a high-impact activity, running may maintain or increase bone density. But it can also put more stress on your joints than lower impact activities such as walking and cycling, especially if youre overweight.
Other ways to stay motivated include:• Have a clear aim, such as competing in a local fun run or being able to run non-stop for an hour.• Be realistic. Dont commit to run a marathon in three months if youve never run before.• Think of yourself as a runner and make running a habit, just like cleaning your teeth. Think in terms of "when I go for my run" rather than "if I go for a run".• Keep a diary. Record your progress, the time of day, weather, how you felt, where you went and so on.
Swimming...• Swimming is a great way to tone up and trim down, because to swim you need to move your body against the resistance of the water.• Swimming is also an effective form of fat-burning exercise, because you can swim at your own pace, you can keep swimming for long periods, and maintaining your staying power is a vital goal in fat-burning exercise.• The other big advantage is that water supports your weight and takes the stress off your joints, so you can put your body through a good workout without your knees, hips or spine paying the price.
Cycling...• A healthy heart- A major study of more than 10,000 people found those who cycle at least 20 miles a week are half as likely to have heart problems as those who dont cycle at all.• Weight control. Some research suggests we should be burning up at least 2,000 calories a week through exercise .Cycling burns about 300 calories an hour• Make cycling a part of your routine. If youre worried about making time for exercise, why not see if you can cycle to and from work, which would incorporate exercise into your normal daily routine.• Because the bicycle supports your body, cycling isnt necessarily a weight-bearing exercise. This means its good for people with certain bone and joint problems because it puts very little pressure on them, but it makes it less effective for protecting against osteoporosis.
Diet planAim• A good daily target is to keep fat intake below 100g for men and 75g for women.Problems with fat• There are nine calories in every gram of fat - more than twice as many as in the equivalent amount of protein or carbohydrate. That is why cutting down on high-fat foods is the first step to a healthier diet.• Saturated fat is also one of the leading factors in heart disease, the number one cause of premature death in the UK. Saturated fat can block the arteries that carry blood away from the heart, leading to high blood pressure and heart attacks.
How to eat low fat...• Use a low-fat spread instead of butter or margarine.• Eat fewer meat pies, cheesy dishes and sausages, and choose lean meat instead.• Dont add oil or butter to vegetables and potatoes.• Have a couple of meat-free days a week and experiment with vegetarian dishes.•• Reduce the portion size of meat to about 75g and fill up on vegetables and starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, pasta, bread or couscous.• Remove visible fat from meat, eat fish at least once a week, choose low- fat milk and yoghurt, and keep cheese as an occasional treat.
Balanced Diet8 tips for eating well...• Base meals on starchy foods• Eat lots of fruit and vegetables• Eat more fish• Cut down on saturated fat and sugar• Try to eat less salt - no more than 6g a day• Get active and try to be a healthy weight• Drink plenty of water• Dont skip breakfast