The so-called ‘Summer of Sport’ should have been inspiring us all to not just be a spectator but to get off the couch and do something active.
Did you know lack of physical exercise is one of the top ten causes of preventable ill health in England? So whether you’ve been cheering on your football team for Euro 2016, glued to Wimbledon or wrapped up in the Rio 2016 Olympics, why not take a little inspiration from your sporting heroes and get physical yourself?
It is worth keeping in mind what you’re snacking on while you watch sport on the box. It’s been calculated we each watch just over four hours of television every day in the UK and this rises during spectacles such as the Olympics.
Pile on the pounds
Studies show this impacts us in two ways. The first through lack of exercise and the second is that we’re less fussy about what we’re eating and consume around 167 calories for every hour we’re hooked on the small screen. And when you throw in alcohol consumption to cheer on your team, then this can cause us to pile on the pounds.
Regular physical activity is hugely important for people of all ages. It can reduce the risk of getting, and managing, more than 20 chronic conditions, from coronary heart disease and strokes to type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
It also helps people with their mental health, reducing stress levels and anxiety, so it’s good news for our health all round.
What’s more, as little as ten minutes of physical activity can do the trick. That doesn’t sound much, yet over a third of adults in the UK do less than 30 minutes of exercise a week.
The key thing is to get your blood pumping for at least that amount of time, so you know you’re doing some good for your heart, brain, bones and muscles.
Health advice if you’ve not exercised for a while
If you’ve not done any exercise for a while the best approach is start to slowly at a pace to suit you and to find a form of exercise that you enjoy.
It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Leave the car at home or get off a stop or two early if you use public transport as walking briskly is an effective way to get back into regular exercise.
Figures show that over four out of ten Brits have a bike so why not take up cycling? It’s also been proven that stair climbing burns more calories per minute than jogging! We can all find a staircase or skip the lift.
There are numerous free apps and downloads to help, whether it’s exercise routines or information on resources near to where you live.
But whatever you do, make sure you do something more than cheer on your sporting heroes from the side-lines to make the most of the Summer of Sport.
Dr Alexandra Phelan is a working GP and member of the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service.