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Lack of Exercise - Sleep Walking To Obesity

Oct 19, 2007
I have to admit I've put on a considerable amount of weight over the past year and I know why. It's not because I've been eating more, but rather exercising less.

I've been writing another book and my research has had me virtually glued to the chair in front of the computer and only my brain and fingers have been getting a workout.

That's my excuse, but not for much longer as the book is almost done. The stupid thing is I feel really lethargic. I know just a few minutes exercise a day would really energise me and most likely make me more productive. However, I can't seem to drag myself away from the computer and find myself saying things like, "I'll just do this first", or I'll do it "later", "tomorrow", "next week", and the truth is I just haven't done anything. It shows.

I'm not alone though. According to the latest BBC television news, half the nation will be obese within the next twenty-five years. It will cost the country something in the region of 45 billion pounds through health issues and lost work hours.

Obviously, not everyone is writing a book so what's happening?

Well, it appears there's a lack of education as far as food labelling is concerned and people are having a hard time deciding what's good or bad. Despite the government recommendation of a simple traffic light system on packaging which clearly indicates green is good, orange requires caution and red is bad, some major supermarket chains have adopted their own versions which appear to be confusing everyone. Maybe that's the idea?

Advertising too is being blamed for targeting young children with delicious but unhealthy snacks. Manufacturers know youngsters can be very influential when it comes to items in the trolley at the supermarket checkouts and of course they are the shoppers of tomorrow so it makes sense to get to them early.

Another important factor is the lack of exercise at school, especially for girls. I went to an all girls school, and whilst admittedly I left thirty six years ago, I could only see two pupils who I would consider to be "fat" on my dreaded final annual school photo.

Back then we only actually had sports lessons twice a week but they were double lessons and I hated them, mostly because we had to wear horrible big navy knickers and a white tee-shirt. We played tennis, hockey and netball, and went either swimming in the summer or cross country running in the winter. We also attempted athletics for the annual sports day and I remember landing on a rake once whilst doing the Fosbury Flop in the high jump.

Of course, back then, we also used to either walk everywhere or ride our bikes and it seems the youth of today do neither. It's not actually their fault as we've become a society obsessed with safety and a fear of letting our children out of our sight, but I do have to admit there are some strange people around now. Also, there are far fewer safe areas to play these days as many parks and playing fields have been built on.

As a teenager I never ventured far but as my parents were unable to ferry me backwards and forwards to the local village dances I often found myself hitch hiking. Actually that just meant standing on the corner at the crossroads and someone would always stop and give me a lift, but in those days everyone knew everyone else so the likelihood of a stranger picking me up never crossed my mind. Now I wouldn't dare contemplate either hitching a ride or giving anyone else a ride which is a shame. It's a sign of the times though, and I reflect upon that sadly every time I see the face of an unlucky hitchhiker in my rear view mirror.

Going back though to my younger days, and outside of school I always used to exercise although I never thought of it in those terms. Rather, it was having unsupervised "fun" with my friends, something which also seems to be a thing of the past.

Until I started work I used to play football. This was long before it was fashionable for girls to do so and whilst you would never guess it now, I was quite good. I had lots of energy and could run. My friend, Josephine also played football, but in goal, and was extremely good too. I can picture her now diving for the ball with her long thick hair tied up in bunches with elastic bands.

Every weekday night a gang of us would meet up at the local recreation ground, pick two teams and play football until it was too dark to see the ball. Then we'd either run or ride our bikes straight home. It kept us fit and cost nothing.

Now, it's very rare to see children playing any sport or taking any exercise at all unless the games are paid for and organised. Parents drop off and collect their offspring, all of whom have their own mobile phones.

For those children whose parents can't afford these activites the opportunity for exercise is limited. They either spend most of their lives in front of a television or computer screen, or hang around street corners. It's no wonder the nation is getting bigger and less sociable.

As I said I have an excuse for gaining weight but I'm ashamed to need one. Exercise should be as fundamental as breathing, not something I have to schedule in. I know lack of exercise and excess weight is a recipe for major health issues so unless I want to sleepwalk my way into obesity and be part of the aforementioned BBC statistic in a few years time I need to do something about it now.

How about you?
About the Author
Jean Shaw writes articles and is the author of I'm Not Naughty - I'm Autistic and Autism, Amalgam and Me See http://www.jeanshaw.com
Visit her what a slimming world blog
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