Physical Activity and Health (Time to get serious)

It’s cool to not exercise right? 

You can find a tonne of people who love to make fun of their physical inactivity.

 

“Exercise? I though you said more fries….”
 

Who doesn’t love to sit at home and watch TV as a distraction from the day to day stresses of life.

 

Why spend your time at the gym? That’s for meat heads who are more concerned with how they look than having a good time.

 
I’ll tell you what’s better, consuming an abundance of food and alcohol coupled with a general lack of activity whatsoever.
 

Now that’s cool.

 

With the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve seen a big shift in the way that people are looking at their health.
 

It’s funny that only when our health is under threat, do we start to consider the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

 
Suddenly, the health benefits of exercise are no longer a joke, and with the scepticism of going to the pub for a weekly binge, exercise isn’t looking like a bad alternative after all.
 

Physical Activity 

Physical activity is a pretty general term and you can make sure you stay physically active by doing pretty routine things each day. 

 

You don’t even have to step foot into a gym to be classified as physically active (phew, that spares all that ridicule from your mates).

 
Physical activity is actually defined as any “voluntary movement produced by the skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure”
 

This can be things such as cleaning the house, doing general chores, DIY, having a physically active job, playing sports, cycling, walking, swimming etc. 

 

Most of it is routine stuff if you ask me, we’re pretty impressive creatures and it can’t be that hard to move around a bit each day?

 
Well the statistics suggest otherwise.
 

What The Stats Say

The average UK adult spends 9 hours per day sitting down through a combination or work, watching TV, commuting and general laziness.
 
Physical inactivity is cited as the cause for 1 in 6 UK deaths (equal to smoking), and it’s on the rise.
 
We’re now 20% less active than we were in the 1960’s, on track to be 35% less active in 2030
 

Physical inactivity is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 Billion annually

 

Yep, that’s right. Being physically inactive is terrible for your health.

 

Who would’ve thought it.

 

But wait, aren’t there some sort of guidelines to help to you understand how much physical activity you should be doing?
 
Well, as it happens there is.
 

The Guidelines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that we all achieve a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Now this doesn’t mean that if you clean dishes for 150 minutes per week, you’re fulfilling your activity quota (although i’m sure your partner will be happy).
 
You want to actually get your heart rate up and feel as if you’re doing something that requires some effort.
 
This is why the WHO expands on their recommendation in the following ways.
 
  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity
  • A combination of the above
  • For additional benefits adults should double the numbers above to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or at least 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity
  • Muscle strengthening exercise should be done at least 2 times per week, targeting the major muscle groups
  • Bouts of activity should be a minimum of 10 minutes each
 
But what is moderate intensity activity? 
Well, Harvard classifies moderate intensity activity as those activities that get you moving fast enough or strenuously enough to burn off three to six times as much energy per minute, as you do when you are sitting quietly.
 
This energy expenditure is expressed as MET’s (Metabolic equivalents), where 1 MET is defined as the energy it takes to sit quietly.
 
So moderate intensity exercise can be expressed as 3-6 MET’s. Great.
 
Now what form of physical activity constitutes 3-6 MET’s?
 
Moderate activity (3-6 MET’s)
  • Very brisk walking
  • Heavy cleaning (Washing windows, vacuuming, mopping)
  • Light Cycling
  • Tennis
  • Building tasks
Wait, so you can get hit your weekly quota by walking more and walking faster?
 
That can’t be so hard can it?
 
Well you may be short on time, so let’s look at what constitutes vigorous activity.
 
Vigorous activity is expressed as 6 MET’s or more.
 
Vigorous activity ( 6+ MET’s)
  • Running
  • Fast Cycling
  • Swimming (Fast)
  • Competitive Sports
  • Carrying/moving heavy loads (i.e. resistance training)
  • Aerobics
So you only have to do 75 minutes of vigorous activity (15 minutes each day), to fulfil your quota? Sounds like a bargain to me.
 

The Point

The point here is that it really does not have to be difficult.
 
Your physical activity can be as simple as going out and getting 10,000 steps in every day (something which all my clients are encouraged to do as soon as they sign up with me)
 
It can be a combination of activities and you can make sure that it’s something that you enjoy doing.
 
Or it can be more structured than that and you can develop an actual exercise routine.
 
You can join the gym and go twice a week to strengthen your body (unsure on what to do? Great news, I offer online and in-person training).
 
You can do all of these things, and if you’re not, you may need to ask yourself why?
 
We have a habit of not addressing something until becomes a problem and we’re forced to make a change.
 
The health benefits of physical activity are simply second to nothing, so why wouldn’t you want to reap these benefits?

This infographic really just shows the tip of the iceberg.


If you could take all the health benefits of exercise and make a handy little pill, it would be prescribed for the majority of all health issues.


Even better news, you can prescribe it for yourself.


Start taking your physical activity more seriously and give yourself the best chance of living a happier, fuller and longer life.

Sam is a Personal Trainer, Online Coach and Fitness Educator with background in achieving results for a variety of clients. Sam now specialises in Pain Free Performance, helping people across the world to achieve their goals safely and effectively. 

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