While watching the 2012 London Olympic Games, I think we all had a great admiration for the courage and sheer athleticism of the competing national and international Olympic athletes.
While that level of elite fitness is admirable, it is not possible for most of us to attain such a high level of physical skill and conditioning. However, it is possible to emulate the Olympic spirit and motivate towards a goal of becoming more active and optimizing aerobic fitness.
In a recent study published in the Lancet (July 18, 2012), researchers found strong evidence that shows physical inactivity increases the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and shortens life expectancy.
These findings probably do not come as a surprise to most physicians or patients. One of the more alarming findings from this study, however, was the fact that physical inactivity seems to have a similar level of risk to that of smoking. To think that NOT exercising on a regular basis can be as harmful to your health and well-being as smoking a pack of cigarettes for your whole life is somewhat surprising.
The American College of Cardiology recommends that patients should incorporate a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise into their weekly schedule. Taking into account the results of this study, surely, can’t we find a way to squeeze 15-30 minutes of brisk walking into our day? Exercise is on everyone’s list of positive health behaviors, but it is not as high as it should be.
“The most important thing is not to win but to take part,” – perhaps this Olympic motto can inspire us to set aside enough time in our busy schedule and take part in improving our health through exercise.