Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and adults who are physically active have a 25% reduced risk of a premature death and up to 50% reduced risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and Type II diabetes.
Lack of physical activity is associated with obesity, breathing problems, infertility, psychological problems and even some cancers. Recent research, reported that adults of South Asian origin were 3 times more likely to die from heart disease and 6 times more likely to develop Type II diabetes than the White participants. Physical inactivity and obesity in childhood is strongly linked with that in adulthood as physical activity decreases with age.
In the UK there are significant inequalities in levels of physical activity: where compared with the general population in England, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese men and women are less likely to meet physical activity recommendations. Over half of people in black and minority ethnic (BME) communities do no sport or physical activity11. On average BME populations have a lower sports participation rate than the national average of sports participation (46%): Bangladeshi (30%), Pakistani (31%), Indian (39%) and Black Caribbean (39%) and 92% of South Asian women do not take part in the recommended levels of activity, compared to 55% of all women. One of the main factors contributing to such low levels of participation is a lack of BME role models who have little involvement with organising sporting activities.
The best way of maintaining a healthier lifestyle and weight is a combination of increasing physical activity and reducing calorie intake. To keep healthy, adults should do a minimum of 30 minutes per day of at least moderate physical activity on 5 or more days per week, whereas children need to do at least an hour a day.
What is ‘moderate physical activity’? It’s movement that results in:
• An increase in breathing rate.
• An increase in heart rate, where the pulse can be easily felt
• A feeling of increased warmth, possibly accompanied by sweating on hot or humid days.
You can do all 30 minutes at once or in separate sessions throughout the day, e.g. 3 x 10 minute brisk walks. If however you wish to lose weight then you should exercise a total of 60 to 90 minutes per day. If you haven’t done any regular physical activity for a while then it is best to start slow and gradually increase duration. Stop if you are becoming severely short of breath or getting any pains and seek medical advice. Make the physical activity fun by participating in local community outings, group activities or team sports.
Before starting any change in physical activity, arrange a review with your GP to make sure you don’t have an underlying medical problem.
If, after reading these guidelines you have any questions concerning physical activity/exercise related health issues please forward to me and I will do my best to answer them in further issues.
Dr Zafar Iqbal
MBBS, BSc, DCH, DRCOG, MRCGP, MSc, MFSEM (UK), Dip PCR
Head of Sports and Exercise Medicine Crystal Palace FC
Sports and Exercise Medicine Physician
Pure Sports Clinics
Twitter – sportsdrzaf
The information provided by Dr Zafar Iqbal is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to existing treatment.