This was my first experience of the UK’s largest fitness and physical activity exhibition. It was great to see and meet so many like-minded professionals who share our ambition to get more people active. Below are just 5 of the things I took away from the day.…
1) The problem of air pollution can be turned into an opportunity to promote health
Dr Audrey Nazelle presented an evidenced based talk on how we can improve health through increased physical activity and reducing emissions. Research shows that there are between 3.2 and 7 million deaths per year globally due to ambient air pollution, which is ranked 8th in the World Health Organisations’ list of the highest risk factors to death. Low physical activity and physical inactivity is ranked 9th. The risks are higher than the benefits only for people doing substantial cycling (hours per day) in the most polluted cities in the world (e.g. Delhi).
Avoiding cycling and walking in high air pollution days could reduce the benefits of physical activity more than it wold reduce air pollution benefits. If we changed the environment through urban planning to promote and encourage more active travel, it would benefit our health. The key message I got from this talk was that we need to think more holistically about tackling air pollution and that active travel has a role to play in this.
2) Dr Micheal Mosely is on a mission!
He wants to educate people with little time and little inclination to do exercise. He is an innovative and creative thinker and understands that we can’t all fit an hour of exercise every day into our busy lives. Micheal is a big advocate of HITT training but takes the high intensity to the extreme! His exercise routine consists of 3 x 20 seconds of cycling like crazy, 3 times a week. He also does 30 minutes of brisk walking a day and 4 minutes of strength training 3 times a week.
Who knows? – in 10 years’ time there could be exercise bikes in every office so that we can all get the health benefits from exercise done in the time it takes to make a brew!
4 of the Sport Tech Hub alumni attended the event, showcasing the great work that they’ve been doing in the last 6 months
3) I am a lark
Some of us are born to wake up bright and early and perform best in the morning whereas others reach their optimal capabilities at night-time. To optimise your physical and mental performance and recovery, you need to plan your day so that you are doing your most important or strenuous work when you are most alert.
Do you sleep well? Are you guilty of looking at your phone or tablet before bed, exercising late at night or completing that work which is due in at 9:00 in the morning at 2:00am? Nick Littlehales, a specialist sleep coach, presented sobering insight into how to get the right levels of good quality sleep. Apparently the best position to sleep in is the foetal position on your non-dominant side. With the nation chronically sleep deprived, it seems that this is an area we could all benefit from being educated in…
4) We can save the NHS by using the technology advance of modern day society!
20 years ago it was an alien concept that everyone would be walking around wearing heart rate trackers like Fitbits. Products like fitness trackers and the great wonders of Google are enabling us to become more empowered to take greater control of our health and not rely on GP’s having all the answers. We can identify problems before they spiral into greater issues. I have no doubt that in the near future we will all be measuring our own blood! It takes no longer than 5 minutes to get a finger prick sample which can tell you if your cholesterol levels are too high putting you at risk of heart disease or if you are at risk of developing diabetes from your blood sugar level. We can save the NHS and ourselves through greater self-monitoring – watch this space!
5) We are getting the problem of obesity all wrongWe are fuelling the obesity epidemic by advertising unhealthy food everywhere and, currently. there is no government strategy to tackle adult obesity. Can you outrun a bad diet? Not unless you are prepared to run for an hour to burn off that muffin you treated yourself to from the office earlier and walk for another 3 hours to burn off that sandwich you ate!
We are all guilty of compensatory eating or relaxing to reward ourselves for exercise but, more often than not, this reward results in our energy intake being greater than the amount of energy we burnt off! I’m not advising that we all give up on exercise because there is an endless list of benefits it can bring, but to tackle obesity we really need to rethink what we are fuelling our bodies with and how we can make healthy food more readily available for everyone. There was a healthy snack vending machine at Elevate – why not roll these out in commercial areas and reduce the amount of those selling chocolate and crisps?