My View, Dr David Crichton: We exercise less since the last Olympics

Exercise is good for your health
Exercise is good for your health
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It’s been said if exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented. So step out, as it’s the wonder remedy we can all benefit from.

Why? Because it can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50 per cent and lower your risk of early death by up to 30 per cent.

So, as many thousands of us are glued to our TV sets in Doncaster watching the Olympics, it seems a timely moment to remind everyone that we need to be more active. I build a regular exercise programme into my weekly routine and feel much better for it, and I advise my patients to do the same.

Major sporting events tend to trigger us into exercising more and the Tour de Yorkshire had the great benefit of getting more people on their bikes in Doncaster. I hope the Rio Olympics factor will create a legacy of encouraging local people to get moving more.

It’s crucial, as a recent survey by Sport England found that the number of people engaging in physical activity has fallen by 0.4 per cent nationally since the 2012 London Olympics, with Doncaster reportedly having the biggest drop in the country. This is something we need to reverse very quickly.

The Government describes inactivity as a “silent killer”, with new evidence emerging which points to sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, being bad for your health.

The UK is one of the most inactive countries in the world, with over 63 per cent of over 15s preferring to rest rather than exercise, compared to just 18 per cent in the Netherlands and 40 per cent in the US.

We tend to do less activity as we age, with the biggest reduction taking place after reaching 65. So how much physical activity should we be aiming for to keep healthy?

n Under-fives should be active for at least three hours each day, doing energetic activities like running around, or light ones, such as walking.

n Children and young people aged 5 – 18 need to do at least 60 minutes every day, from cycling and playground activities to running and tennis.

n Adults aged 19- 64 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity - such as cycling or fast walking - every week and strength exercises a couple of days a week that work all the major muscles.

n Adults aged 65, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try and be active daily and try and do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, such as walking or cycling.

So by all means sit back and enjoy watching the Olympics on TV, but make sure you also do some exercise afterwards to make up for it.