Keeping the movement up is a no brainer, when it comes to maintaining our health. Actually making it happen - that’s another thing. But there’s been a wake-up call, courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO).
A recent report from the body has shown that a lack of exercise is damaging the wellbeing of one in four of us, globally.
‘The WHO report suggests that more than a quarter of people worldwide, and nearly 40% of people in the UK, are not doing enough physical exercise,’ says fitness expert and personal trainer Laura Williams. ‘It’s worrying because exercise is important in many different ways to our health. Take dealing with diabetes, for example - not only does exercise help you to maintain a healthy weight, which is important for the management or prevention of the disease, it also helps improve sensitivity to insulin.’ As to the various types of exercise and their benefits? 'Exercise which is weight-bearing, such as walking and running, helps to maintain healthy bones, while exercise which gets you out of breath maintains a healthy cardiovascular system,’ Laura says.
‘By helping you to maintain a healthy weight and boosting muscle and joint function, exercise helps to keep your joints healthy - giving you a fighting chance of reduced back, hip and knee pain, for example.’ Healthy, strong muscles are crucial to living life well - something that regular exercise can help with.
The list goes on. But despite the huge benefits we’re so often told about, getting into the habit of exercising regularly isn’t easy. ‘It requires effort and patience, often with no immediate payoff, combined with getting sweaty and uncomfy while you wait to see results,’ says Laura. ‘It’s easy to understand why people get disheartened.’
The key to moving more is to find something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive - a fitness app, DVD or walking to work are all effective. ‘There’s something for everyone: for the lowest of budgets and the most pushed for time,’ says Laura.
Entering a new decade can prompt a fresh attempt at moving. Research from healthcare provider Bupa found that milestone birthdays sparked people to overhaul their lifestyles, to try and be healthier. Intense challenges such as training for a marathon ranked highly - but, assuming that’s a bit much, start slow and build up your fitness gradually. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s (CSP) ‘Love Activity, Hate Exercise?’ campaign explores common barriers to exercise and helps people to overcome them, in order to find activities that they love. ‘Movement is essential for every aspect of our health,’ says Fran Hallam, of the CSP. ‘Our bodies are designed to move, and not doing so puts us at greater risk of poor health. Many of us overlook the everyday opportunities to use our bodies, such as carrying the shopping, cleaning the car or digging in the garden.’
And if pain should strike after movement? Muscular aches and twinges can be treated with an over- the-counter solution, like Deep Relief Anti-Inflammatory Gel. Rather than being put off movement and pushed away from all of its associated benefits, applying this treatment topically to the affected areas can help you to carry on walking, stretching or whatever you fancy and, in turn, help you maintain muscle strength so you deal with less pain in the future. Just make sure you always read the label.
5 ways to move more
Known as moving meditation, this traditional Chinese practice requires concentration and mindfulness, strengthening the muscles while steadying the mind.
Yoga or Pilates
Keep joints flexible and develop long, lean limbs as you move your body through its full range of motion during a class - as well as strengthening your joints and muscles and improving your balance. A stress-buster like no other.
Make this one a daily habit. Download a step counter onto your phone, and gently segue into being the type of person who walks, rather than drives, to the supermarket, or who takes a spin around the block of an evening, ‘just because.’
Join a club
Most running clubs have groups that cater for every level, so don’t talk yourself out of the opportunity to get yourself out in the fresh air with like-minded souls as you pound the pavement.
We lose muscle as we age, but a simple kettlebell routine can help reverse this process and shred some serious fat in the process. Start with a light bell and increase the weight as you get fitter and stronger.