Can't find time to exercise? Here's why you really, really should!

As someone whose life has been turned around through exercise, and who sees others who have transformed their own on a daily basis, I find it really hard to understand why more aren’t doing it. The biggest factor is often time, or rather the lack of it, even though time can often be found to do all manner of other things that might not be contributing so greatly to our health.

When allocating time in our lives, we prioritise those things that are most important to us. In no particular order, this is often family, work, friends and hobbies. For many, exercise takes a back seat, only moving up the list when it is brought to our attention following illness, or some stern words from a GP.

When I completed my GP referral specialisation in 2016, I came away with an even greater enlightenment of the life changing benefits of exercise. And amongst all the data and hard facts, one statement really stood out. A statement made by Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer at the time, in his Annual Report of 2009. It reads: ‘The potential benefits of physical activity to health are huge. If a medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a ‘wonder drug’ or ‘miracle cure’. ‘ And features in the section aptly titled, ‘Moving To Nature’s Cure’. (CMO Report 2009)

Yet despite exercise being free, in abundant supply, often enjoyable and easily accessible to most; since this statement was made, NHS prescription costs have risen by a massive £5 billion to £17.4 billion in the year 2016/17 (The Rising Cost of Medicine to the NHS - What’s The story - The Kings Fund - Apr 2018). The healthcare cost of physical inactivity is estimated at £1.2 billion per year in the UK.

The words ‘wonder drug’ and ‘miracle cure’ might sound a little far fetched, but I’m sure Sir Liam didn’t choose his words lightly. The evidence to support his statement is in abundance, and here are 10 of the more sobering headlines:

  1. Physical Activity can reduce your risk of Coronary Heart Disease and stroke by up to 35%.

  2. Physical Inactivity contributes to over 5 million deaths worldwide. As a comparison, smoking contributes to around 6 million deaths worldwide.

  3. One in ten premature deaths from Coronary Heart Disease, and one in six deaths from any cause are attributable to physical inactivity.

  4. Keeping physically active can reduce your risk of early death by as much as 30%.

  5. Physical activity can reduce your chance of Type-2 diabetes by up to 40% (The number of people with diabetes in the UK has doubled in the last 20 years)

  6. Physical activity can help prevent breast and bowel cancer. By helping with weight loss, it reduces the risk of another 12 types of cancer.

  7. Physical activity can help prevent falls in older age. Deaths from falls has increased significantly amongst the elderly since 2008.

  8. Physical activity can help to reduce back pain. It is estimated that 12.5% of all work absence in the UK is attributable to back pain. And aside from work, back pain makes enjoying life with friends and family much more difficult.

  9. Physical activity can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  10. Physical activity can increase your libido and help with erectile dysfunction.

And all this without side-effects, no cost to the NHS, and it can be fun!

So if you still think you haven’t enough time to exercise, go back through that list of 10 benefits one more time, and ask yourself if just 10 minutes a day might really be worth finding. Because even 10 minutes of brisk walking each day can make a difference to your health, as long as it is at the right intensity - working hard enough to feel a little puffed.

If you’d like to do a little more than 10 minutes a day, and ensure your exercise programme gets you both fitter and stronger, then Personal Training is a great start, especially if you’ve been put off gyms and exercise classes in the past. Please get in touch if you’d like to talk about any aspect of your fitness, and how we might help you feel great again!

Thanks for reading,