A survey of UK adults found that nearly two thirds are risking their health by not doing enough exercise and putting themselves at greater risk of
potentially fatal illnesses like cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The Opinium Research survey was conducted in April this year for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) thorugh an online poll of 2,084 UK adults. A regional breakdown is published on the CSP website.
Despite overwhelming evidence that exercise is essential to health, helps fight obesity and reduces people's risk of developing chronic and life threatening disease, it appears that the 63 per cent of UK adults know they are putting their health at risk by not doing enough exercise.
Last week the CSP launched a UK-wide campaign "Move for Health" to raise the importance of exercise in maintaining good health and preventing disease. They have also produced a downloadable leaflet called the Easy Exercise Guide.
Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham expressed his support for the campaign:
"Making just small increases in your activity levels can make a big difference to your overall long-term health."
"Active people are up to 50 per cent less likely to be at risk of major chronic disease such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. But not enough of us do the recommended 30 minutes, five days a week," said Burnham.
The survey results, which were adjusted to be representative of the UK adult population as a whole, showed that:
- 20 per cent of UK adults exercise only once a month or less.
- 41 per cent said they would take regular exercise if it led to a longer life.
- 52 per cent said they would take regular exercise if it helped them lose weight.
- Only 13 per cent knew how much exercise they should do every day, while as many as 56 per cent thought it was less than the recommended amount.
- 39 per cent said they got out of breath quite quickly when they walked up a flight of stairs.
- Women appeared to be less fit than men, with 43 per cent saying they got out of breath quickly compared with 34 per cent of men.
- The most common reason people gave for not taking regular exercise is they are too busy with work (35 per cent), or they did not exercise because they felt too tired or unwell (25 per cent).
- 53 per cent said that they would take more regular exercise if they could fit it into their daily routine.
- 39 per cent said it would help if exercise were free.
Regarding the second most common reason people said they did not exercise, that being because the felt too tired or unwell, the CSP said physiotherapists often recommend exercise as a way to treat lethagy, stress and depression, and boost work performance.
CSP spokesperson Bridget Hurley, who is a chartered physiotherapist told the media that:
"Without sufficient physical activity you increase your risk of life-threatening illnesses."
"Regular physical activity is as important as eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and people need to understand that you can't keep putting it off," she said.
As part of the "Move for Health" campaign, physiotherapists around the UK are showing people that you don't need expensive equipment and lots of spare time to do exercise that benefits health.
As Hurley explained:
"Exercise doesn't need to be expensive, boring or time consuming. Just going outside at lunchtime for a half-hour walk every day will greatly increase your fitness levels."
One way to break out of the vicious cycle of feeling ill and tired which then stops you wanting to exercise is to gradually become more active and build up to the recommended amount. It does not have to be a huge leap.
"We're all aware that exercise is important for our health and finding an activity that you enjoy, such as dancing or gardening, will make it much easier to maintain the sort of lifestyle that is good for us," said Hurley.
"The CSP has a range of free materials to help you find easy ways to be more active without injuring yourself or overdoing it," she added.
-- Survey responses by region.
-- CSP Easy Exercise Guide
Source: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, UK.
Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD