Will Exercise Keep You Healthy?

Lifestyles today are damaging people’s health as exercise is replaced with endless hours of screen time. But is the answer as simple as getting more exercise?

New Year resolutions

New Year resolutions are made and broken at this time of year as good intentions clash with the discipline of reality. It is always difficult to start a new exercise regime as bad habits and laziness combine to stifle efforts. Each year begins with a commitment to change, albeit in the knowledge of likely failure. The benefits of physical activity are well known but many of us struggle to commit on a regular basis. In today’s world exercise is a choice as it is no longer necessary for day-to-day survival. As a result, it is often squeezed out by the priority of spending time at work and with family and friends.

There are of course always new ways to get fit as gym membership, cross-fit clubs, running programmes and even spinning classes abound. Regardless of the attraction of such activities however it is difficult to make progress as more sedentary habits like watching TV prevail. Life over many decades has become less physical as modern trends replace the need for active work. History shows we evolved as a species by using our bodies to find food, build shelters and stay alive. Life was more energetic and full of physical tasks to keep us strong and healthy. Everyday living depended on our ability to walk for miles, run at speed, and become strong enough to carry out manual work. In contrast, today’s environment provides every possible labour saving device and gadget to avoid expending energy.

The role of technology

Technology plays its role in reducing levels of activity too as inventions of every ilk make life more convenient. Everything from hoovers to dishwashers to grass cutting robots and of course cars encourage inactivity. The changing nature of work makes a difference too, as office jobs with the requirement to sit for hours have mushroomed to become the norm. As a result, sitting is now seen as one of the biggest dangers to health with the resultant risk of a rise in diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Even wearable technologies such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit trackers have little impact, as they soon become fashion accessories rather than fitness devices.

The reality of living with little exercise has unsurprisingly attracted the attention of the medical profession, as activity is encouraged for young and old alike. Exercise in this context is seen as an essential part of a healthy life rather than a lifestyle choice. Regular workouts are recommended by doctors as a way to stay healthy. But there is a challenge as doctors suggest that even with regular exercise sitting still for long periods of time has a negative effect on our health.

So, exercise is good for our physical health and mental wellbeing but it may not be enough when interspersed with prolonged periods of inactivity.