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By Dr Mark Uren (Chiropractor)

‘Everyone knows booze and cigarettes are bad for us. But if physical inactivity were packaged and sold as a product, it would need to carry a health warning.’

This is the message from a New Scientist article on the danger to our health of being a couch potato.

Or since Netflix now seems to take up a lot of peoples spare time sitting and watching too much Netflix is not a very healthy trend.

It is clear that exercise is a major enhancement to our health and wellbeing. People who exercise even moderate amounts have increased health and live longer, while couch potatoes have poorer health and die sooner. A huge number of recent studies show that exercise protects us from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease and depression. It even boosts memory. It has the potential to prevent more deaths than any other single treatment or drug. And it does all this with none of the side effects of actual medication.

As a chiropractor I have the philosophy that the human body is capable of self- regulation and self- healing. Meaning that good health is our natural state provided we take reasonable care of ourselves. Throughout evolution humans have been active. Our ancestors chased prey for food or walked great distances hunting and gathering. In more recent times we laboured on the land and in factories. In modern times there has been a revolution in labour saving devices. Combine this with the car, TV, computers and video games and our lives have come to a shuddering halt.

Inactivity is killing us

We did not evolve sitting in a car or in front of a monitor. We are built to be active and mobile. Our lifestyles and the modern environment has led us to become inactive. And now we’re paying the price. A 2009 study of 50,000 men and women showed that a lack of cardio-respiratory fitness was the most important risk factor for early death. It accounted for more deaths than diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol combined, and double that of smoking.

Put bluntly, inactivity is killing us.

So what can you do to lower your risk of early death from inactivity?

Well you don’t have to take up marathon running or become a gym junkie. The ‘Exercise is Medicine’ initiative says that as little as 2 and a half hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, ballroom dancing or gardening or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity like cycling or swimming will make a profound difference to your wellbeing.

If you follow these recommendations then you will lower your chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%, twice the preventive power of the most widely prescribed anti-diabetes medication, metformin. You will also lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, bowel cancer, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. You will think more clearly, be thinner, deal better with stress and look great.

For help on getting started on an easy exercise program the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia has developed a great website and App.

Source article; ‘The Workout Wonder Drug’. New Scientist. 25 August 2012.