'RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
Well, perhaps you can afford to relax for a few moments more and read on before carrying out my first instruction. However, before explaining, I would like to carry out a small experiment, for which I need your assistance.
I want you to turn to the person next to you and check that the person is your 'nearest and dearest', for if they are not I cannot be held responsible the consequences of your next actions.
Now I want you to grasp that person's tummy just above the waistline and tell me how much you can pinch. If it is less than an inch, then you possibly have a 'lean mean fighting machine' as a partner. However, if there is a roll of fat several inches thick, then we might have a problem; if you need more than one hand to do the squeezing then, without question, we have a really big problem. Do not be fooled by his or her claims that it is 'muscle'; if you can squeeze it, it is not muscle, it is fat, and it is making your nearest and dearest very unhealthy, and will probably shorten their life expectancy.
Right, having established the reality of the situation, let me give you a few facts, and then I will explain how you can help me save a few lives, make our population healthier, reduce the cost of the NHS, and allow me to retire early for the want of any patients to see.
Inactivity increases the risk of developing more than six major diseases and, according to the Department of Heath, affects 60-70% of the adult population at a cost to the tax payer of £8.3 billion. Add in some other figures: 24% of adults are affected by obesity (£16 billion), 9% affected through misuse of alcohol (£20 billion) and the 20% who suffer through smoking (£5 billion), and the cost to our economy is astonishing: lifestyle issues cost us £50 billion per year.
That shows the size of the cost to our pockets. However, what about the cost to our health? Well, by taking a little more exercise (and I am not talking about a lot), we can reduce our risk of heart disease by 10%, stroke by 20%, diabetes, bowel cancer and osteoporosis (fragile bones) by 50% each, and the risk of breast cancer declines by 30%.
The official recommendations are to exercise for 60 minutes each day if you are a child, and 30 minutes five times a week if you are an adult; and it doesn't take very much – a good brisk walk is a good starting point, and for those less capable, how about discovering what tai chi is all about?
If your intention is to accept my invitation of a few weeks ago and attend my 120th birthday party, you have got to slim those waistlines. Now is the time to get going. At the very least start walking for your lives – and start today!
(This is article was first published in the Scunthorpe Telegraph on Monday 15th November 2010)