It’s not exactly breaking news that in the 21st century we live extremely sedentary lives, especially in comparison to our predecessors. Thanks to supermarkets on every corner, we no longer need to hunt for food. We’re certainly not spending our days running from ferocious animals trying to include us in their own food chain, – unless you include salespeople! Our jobs increasingly consist of tapping away at keyboards, while our social activities and sports are more likely to take place in front of screens of one size or another rather than including a kick-around with mates in the park or a bike ride in the open air.
It’s no surprise then that this lifestyle – one which humans aren’t designed for – is leading to increasing health problems. With an astounding 64% of adults in the UK now classed as overweight or obese, according to thinktank The Overseas Development Institute, we’re constantly being reminded that we should be incorporating more activity into our daily routine.
Dr Mike Loosemore, head of Exercise Medicine at the Institute of Sports Exercise and Health at the University College London (UCL), feels that even the smallest changes to our day-to-day lives could go some way to improving the nation’s health – even something as simple as being on your feet more.
It’s estimated that simply by standing up for a mere three hours a day, you can actually increase life expectancy by up to two years. Even such minor things as getting out of your chair more, instead of sitting in the office for hours on end, can have a positive impact. Such low-level exercise like this also has the added advantage of seeming less daunting to the general public – offering an attainable way to stay healthy.
However, there is still a lot to be said for more strenuous activity – after all, this is what our bodies are designed for. Regular exercising for up to 30 minutes at a time, several times a week, is proven to lower blood pressure and prevent a range of other obesity-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.
Getting outside in the fresh air and expending both calories and energy also has a huge impact on mental health, with regular exercise being linked to a lower risk of developing dementia. The strong endorphin rush that comes from working out can also aid anyone suffering from depression.
Yes, the smallest movements can add up to make a big difference to your life, but the real benefit comes from regular movement, outdoor pursuits and an end to indoor lethargy.