Shocking statistics revealed by Public Health England this week and reported in all major news publications.
BUT why are so many Britons dangerously inactive when it is so obvious to fitter, healthier people that this level of inactivity will seriously impact on the health and the happiness of these inactive Britons and their multi-generation families in years to come ?
The reason is multi-fold, and it is NOT SO obvious to those people who are NOT as active as those who are. This is a serious problem nationally, and globally, and there is not a ONE-STOP solution to get us out of the woods.
In fact, in my personal opinion it is not simply down to the individuals themselves to make the change.
We are all in this together as a team and we ALL become affected when the weakest links in the chain start failing.
When I was unfit, 3 stone overweight, with chronic neck and back problems, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol I didn’t fully recognize the longer term trouble I could get myself in to. It was my own lack of knowledge and awareness at that particular time in my life.
Yet, I wasn’t stupid, or lazy or incapable. These “judgmental attitudes” are what one often sees in the media, and even in the very industries that are supposed to be supporting people back to better health (whether that be the Fitness Industry or the Diet Industry or others). Younger, less life-experienced ‘professionals’ in these industries may have grown up in an environment where it was “normal” to exercise or eat well. When they see someone overweight or inactive or unhealthy I often hear words such as “lazy”, or “stupid” in relation to the very people they could reach out to support. What these ‘young professionals’ don’t see is what has happened in the life of that person who is overweight or unhealthy. They don’t yet comprehend that that person may have lost his job, or she may have had a marital breakdown, or was bullied in school, or had a life-changing accident when they were sporty back in school.
These are reasons why I chose to become a Nordic Walking instructor and a Lifestyle Coach and why I encourage business owners to become an integral part of the solution to an improvement in the health and wellbeing of the nation.
The Guardian reported:
“About 6 million middle-aged people in England are endangering their health by not taking so much as a brisk walk once a month, government advisers have said.
Clinicians said such a lack of exercise increases an individual’s risk of prematurely developing serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and cancer.
Public Health England (PHE) said 41% of the 15.3 million English adults aged 40 to 60 walk less than 10 minutes continuously each month at a brisk pace of at least 3mph.”
Poor health affects everything. Work performance. Family life. Social interaction. Mental wellbeing. Happiness.
In my role as a Health & Wellbeing professional and Movement advocate I am always looking for ways to encourage, inspire and motivate people who have become increasingly sedentary to #sitless and #movemore and in ways that are sustainable.
What I have learnt over the past 7 years is that ALL people face a multitude of challenges in their mid-life that cause them to slow down, i.e. move less.
6 Top Reasons for not being regularly active I’ve come across most often :
- “I can’t do it” – This is not an excuse. This is a Belief that the person holds at this particular time, based on previous experience, advice and conditioning. This might be that a person has had an injury, or surgery, or experienced some pain, or has become wary or frightened of moving, or even on a deeper emotional level has been led to believe something that was programmed into their subconscious mind in an earlier period of life. In this particular instance the person could do with speaking with someone who understands this situation from personal experience. Often times this can be through groups or forums that contain positive-minded people who have broken through their personal challenges. This also could be speaking to professionals who have the time for you, as well as greater life experience and awareness. Within my Nordic Walking Business and Wellbeing Academy a lot of time is given to explaining how we can take small steps, or make one degree shifts in our thoughts, words, actions and habits to create small daily wins, which lead to confidence, greater awareness, and stretching of comfort zones.
- “I don’t have enough time/money” – This is a true belief as well, but essentially stems from a scarcity mindset – i.e. that there is never enough. Within our western society we are constantly being badgered by media and advertising to “go one better”. To get a bigger, better, faster, more expensive car. To get a larger, more spacious house. To take on a more responsible and higher paying job. If we are constantly “never satisfied” we actually lose the ability to “live in the moment” with who we are and what we currently have. This is a shocking place I found myself in for over 30 years. My greatest accomplishment to date has nothing to do with what I currently have, but rather that I am no longer caught up in that push & grind scarcity mindset. There is always enough time to fit in at least 10 minutes of brisk walking each and every day !
- It’s too complex – There is a whole difference between knowing that one has to do something, and actually being able to do it. The difference between the two is the GAP. It can be easy to assume the GAP is small when you are not accustomed to the actual process required to accomplish something, never mind habitualize and maintain it. The irony is that someone can be highly intelligent, and therefore capable of comprehending all that is necessary if it was all laid out in a structured manual of instructions, but that person can’t actually do it themselves because they don’t have the instruction manual. There are too many mini-tasks that this person cannot yet see, or is currently unaware exist. This is one of the reasons why I strip things back to absolute basics in my Wellbeing Academy, even for the most intelligent, smart, experienced and accomplished people. They may be skilled in their chosen profession, but highly unaware when it comes to the simple, sustainable basics of ALL the actions required for a long and healthy life.
- Misaligned priorities – Many people are thoroughly enjoying life and are not struggling with mental health issues. They work hard and play hard, have many hobbies, and many social and family engagements. To all intents and purposes they are doing many things pretty good in terms of looking after their health and mental wellbeing. The problem can be a slight misunderstanding or under-rating of the importance of good nutrition, movement, and adequate sleep. Ultimately, a focus on all the good things in life, without an adequate balance and focus on nurturing ones own internal health can lead to lifestyle-related inflammation and health problems which surface later in life, and are often misinterpreted as being age-related. There is still chance to reverse many quite serious lifestyle influenced health problems, but a strategy is needed and a methodical approach needs to be followed until one is well within safe zone parameters for physical health.
- Mid-life crisis – by this I don’t mean the male stereotype wanting to buy a Porsche or have a younger female partner. By this I mean a marital breakdown, or a job/career loss, or moving country and struggling to readjust, or the death of a family member, taking on more responsibility than you are currently capable of managing, or falling foul to subconscious sabotaging limiting beliefs. The ensuing symptoms of these crises are isolation, fear, weight gain, overconsumption of food/alcohol/drugs/nicotine, lack of movement, and more. In such situations “going on a diet” or “getting to the gym” may be more detrimental than positive. What people need in times like this are space, support, comfort, guidance, and to be told that “everything will be ok”. Large percentages of people suffering with mental health challenges such as anxiety, phobias, depression, etc. are given pharmaceutical drugs and left to stay at home. In many cases these can be the worst things for that person at that moment in time, or can lead to a much longer trajectory of an easily remediable mental health hiccup. In the case of depression I am a great advocate for support via the natural environment. Simply walking outside in the fresh air and sunshine in green spaces offers so many benefits. This is one of the primary reasons I promote the many benefits of Nordic walking, why I was intent on creating a strong sociable group with Nordic Walking Preston, and why in my Wellbeing Academy I encourage the absolute basics such as hydration, wholefoods, outdoor movement and sleep.
- Being alone – The worst cases of being alone are being absolutely isolated, i.e. neither content to be alone in contemplation, and not able to interact, socialize and communicate with others. This can lead to a downward spiral with an increasing fear to get back out amongst people again. Small consistent steps need to be taken from here, and finding a supportive group is imperative. There are three primary benefits to the Nordic Walking we promote in Preston. It’s a full-body exercise great for physical health. You are outdoors in the green spaces and parks which ensure you engage all your senses. This stimulates resilience of mental wellbeing and elevates mood. Finally, we walk and talk. We communicate. We socialize. We enjoy each others company. This boosts confidence as well as creates friendships which boost motivation and morale.
In September 2017 we are launching a #movemore campaign to get more people in Preston and across the UK active by brisk walking for at least 10 minutes each day.
If you become inspired and want to join our hour-long Nordic walking sessions, then you can gain even more benefits.
If you are a business with staff who sit at computer screens most of the day, then why not invite us round to activate your staff at lunchtime or after work. Just a 10 minute walk works wonders. However, build that up to a regular weekly Nordic walk and see how it improves overall morale and performance.
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If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call Matt on 07530 813225 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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