With the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games starting this blog is a timely reminder to endorse the benefits of physical activity.
As the Australian public cheer on their favorite athletes from the comfort of her/his living room an oxymoron of sorts is this:
People are likely to be sitting on their glutes all day rather than getting out and using them! So while the Commonwealth Games is displaying the epitome of fitness, we are more likely to be sedentary and less physically active while we watch the athletes.
An evidence to practice gap in physical activity
A recent perspective paper in the Medical Journal of Australia discusses an “evidence-practice gap” of physicians. This means that while the evidence is strong in regards to the benefits of physical activity, there is an inadequacy in discussing and prescribing it to patients.
NOW, in no way am I slanting a bias towards exercise physiologist/scientists. However, physicians are typically the first line of contact for patient care, and thus, with physical inactivity being the fourth leading cause of morbidity/mortality worldwide (1) my premise is thus justified right?
The authors found that physicians who were themselves physically active, were more adept at discussing exercise over physicians who are physically inactive (3).
The benefits of physical activity are very well known (2). I am an evidence based analytical thinker, so when the evidence is very strong and robust – the likelihood for adherence is highly likely. Of course, there are “health professionals” and unfortunate reality television shows; that promote unhealthy physical activity.
Which is why I challenge the reader to ask her/his medical/health professional about the recommended physical activity guidelines. Do you know yourself? What the minimum physical activity guidelines are? What if your job entails eight hours of sitting a day… how much physical activity should one be achieving, based on evidence?
So many interrogatives!
So in summary, here’s some tips to help you increase your physical activity:
- Query your medical and allied health team about the physical activity guidelines.
- Ask your medical and allied health team – “am I safe to move”?
- Lastly, trust your source of information, including mine – by doing further research, while being mindful for confirmation biases.
Enjoy the games, and cheers to moving more!
- Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, et al. Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet 2012; 380: 219-229.
- Pedersen BK, Saltin B. Exercise as medicine – evidence for prescribing exercise as therapy in 26 different chronic diseases. Scand J Med Sci Sports2015; 25: 1-72.
About the Author
We have all heard about that uncle that didn’t smoke or drink, and went to bed early, and died of a heart attack while going for his morning run, right??!! Why would we even bother?!!
Well, there’s some truth to that fear, as your risk of injury and other negative health events certainly increases somewhat WHILE you are exercising. Think about it, your car is much more likely to rattle, overheat, or have a tire blow out while driving at high speeds, than while it’s parked in your garage, right?! A wise colleague of mine once said at a presentation on the matter:
I have never seen anyone get injured while standing at the front of a shop while window-shopping!
and I have to agree, neither have I. And the more extreme the exercise, the greater the chance of a negative outcome. Take Mountaineering for example, which is 50-100 x more risky than your regular structured exercise, with a 1 in 400 chance of dying in any given year!!
BUT, here is the catch: Doing nothing is 20x more risky than moutaineering!!
It is very clear that being sedentary and sitting for prolonged periods of time is extremely dangerous for us. So much so, that when compared to the rightly criticised smoking, which takes 11mins off your life expectancy per cigarette that you smoke; one hour of sitting watching TV takes 22 mins off your life!
Sitting for 10 hours a day is equivalent to being like an average smoker (20 a day). Both of which lose 1.5 years for every 10 years of the habit.
So how do we reverse this increasing level of risk? The clear answer is to obviously move more! Make sure that you aren’t sitting for an hour without having gotten up. In addition good health (FESS) behaviours reduce the risk of premature death by 65-84%
One other thing to watch is stress. Those that report being “Much more stressed than usual” are at a similar level of risk as those that smoke 20 cigarettes a day!! So, how can you combat this? We know that hobby activities reduce risk by 27%; that relaxation exercises reduce risk by 23%; and that simply ‘enjoying’ life reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 38% in men and 11% in women
Ok, time for me to get up and do a few squats!
We don’t think much about the amount of time we sit on our butts, in fact we’ve geared sitting into pretty much every aspect of our lives.
We only need to look at US data to see that TV viewing time and low activity jobs have doubled, and miles spent in a vehicle has triple in the last 50 years to know that things are profoundly changing.
Unfortunately though we’re built on a biology that was meant to move, not to stare at a screen all day, and now we’re paying for it. (more…)
I heard a recent statistic that watching two hours of television per day increased risk of death before the age of 65 by 13%, with associated risks of heart disease and diabetes going up by 15% and 20% respectively. Given the average Australian watches the box for around four hours per day, this should be an alarming stat to some of us!
Obviously we’re all smart enough to know there’s more to it than this otherwise, I’d anticipate, we would have seen a massive government legislation against the idiot box!
Surely it’s more about the behaviour that TV watching represents, and the impact that this has on our bodies when carried out over extended periods of time. (more…)
A recent post by a colleague, Scott Wood, highlighted that if you want to lose weight you need to do more than just walk.
Walking uses four times as much energy as sitting on a couch, however, when we factor a 30 minute walk into our whole day the increase in energy expenditure is no more than what we would get from not eating a banana.
While skipping the banana would be the easier option, I believe there is much more to walking than just the calories burnt. (more…)