Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What Value Do You Put On Health?

I spent a lot of time over the weekend becoming familiar with a range of medical conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, arthritis and depression, and the considerations that I would need to have when designing a workout for people with these conditions. What became clear very quickly was that exercise was beneficial to just about everyone but more importantly was terribly important as part of prevention measures as well. It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:
  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke 
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes 
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer 
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer 
  • a 30% lower risk of early death 
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis 
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture 
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults) 
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression 
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
The NHS website gives some fantastic information on how much exercise we should be taking as a minimum and there are some great initiatives like Change 4 Life.

There are so many reasons why we, as a nation, move less than we used to. We have more sedentary work and an abundance of labour saving devices but many people quote lack of money as a reason not to exercise. I completely understand this. There are huge financial demands on many of us these days and coughing up money for a gym membership, classes or a personal trainer can feel like an unnecessary luxury.

I'd like to try and re-frame that a little. Now what I'm going to say next will not apply to everyone. Some people genuinely do not have money to spare; this does not preclude them from exercise but they may need to be a bit canny about it. I'll likely write another post on that sometime. However there are people who will think nothing of spending a few hundred pounds on a handbag, a pair of boots, games consoles or on a nice suit. There might be a little thought before handing over the credit card but probably not too much. Ask someone to spend that same money on a personal trainer, a gym membership, a piece of exercise equipment and it's a different story, usually "I can't afford that".

In reality it's a matter of priorities. These purchases are sometimes seen as investments, there's something tangible in return for your money. Spending that sort of money on a gym membership, a PT, club membership or the like can feel very different as there's little to show for it. But spending that sort of money on your health is far more of an investment than buying that handbag. It seems ludicrous that we should put a higher value on material things (within reason) than on our own health. What point is there in having the flash car when your back hurts too much to drive it?

I'm not suggesting that you should stop all frivolous spending but maybe consider spending in a different way occasionally; put your chocolate spend towards a class for one week perhaps. That £200 you could spend on something material or frivolous could perhaps get you half a dozen PT sessions or a few months gym membership, depending on your location. Perhaps a couple of pairs of trainers or new sports kit. A handful of exercise DVDs (self-motivation not included) and a few pieces of basic kit, all available to order online and delivered to your door, which perhaps isn't quite in keeping with what I'm trying to encourage but you get the idea.

So my point is this. Moving is good for us. It doesn't have to be expensive but it should be a priority.

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