Will Olympic legacy get overweight people exercising?
The whole nation it seems is suffering from Olympic fever.
Unlike any other sporting event on these shores, the London Games is bringing families together to watch Team GB’s athletes attempt to fulfil their medal dreams.
But whether it is actually going to encourage people to go out and take up new sports in the longer term remains to be seen.
However, if the Games isn’t enough to encourage people to lead a more active lifestyle, then maybe the findings of a new study published in the Lancet journal is.
The study, which was conducted by private medical care provider Bupa, used questionnaires to gauge the average Brits level of fitness and found that many people are not getting the level of physical activity their body needs for a long and healthy life.
Indeed, Bupa’s researchers pointed out that not getting enough exercise increases a person’s risk of developing chronic disorders such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
Dr Sneh Khemka, director of healthcare development for Bupa, said: “As a season of great sporting events continues, you would think exercise would be on many people’s minds. However, it’s likely that a good percentage of us aren’t fulfilling the recommended amount of exercise we should be doing.
“Although some people may be happy to sit and watch sport from the comfort of their sofa, this research has revealed some worrying figures about the effects of an inactive lifestyle.
“The researchers suggested that a lack of physical activity contributes to a range of health conditions, which, worldwide, cause nine per cent of premature deaths each year – this figure is similar to the number of deaths caused by smoking.”
The study estimated that around 5.3 million deaths would be prevented each year if all currently inactive people took up regular exercise.
The research builds on Bupa’a recent International Health Pulse Survey, which found that 21 per cent of people in the UK are obese and at major risk of type 2 diabetes.
Despite this, 46 per cent of those obese people actually said they were healthy when questioned about their physical wellbeing.
“Perhaps we need to focus on how people can build activity and exercise into their daily lives,” Dr Khemka added.
“The World Health Organization recommends we do 150 minutes of exercise every week. To achieve this, it doesn’t necessarily mean gruelling sessions at the gym or running a marathon – simple changes, such as brisk walking, gardening or playing with your kids in the garden, are all good starting points”.
Dr Khemka believes that people who are not part of the social groups which regular take part in sport should to get exercise in other ways such as leaving the car at home and walking to work (if possible) or taking the stairs rather than the lift each day.
Subsequent figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that the number of people considered obese around the world has doubled over the course of the past three decades.
In 2008, around 1.4 billion people were estimated to be overweight, with more than 40 million of them being children aged under five.