ENJOY FOOD THIS CHRISTMAS – YOU CAN BE FAT, FIT AND HEALTHY!
As a Chartered Physiotherapist it will be no surprise to everyone that people with back pain consult me for advice and treatment – some of my patients are overweight and whilst telling me the history of their condition as the festive season is upon us they invariably voluntarily “admit” to carrying extra pounds – quickly saying that the situation will be remedied by what is probably the most common New Year’s Resolution – “to go on a diet”.
They are, without exception, surprised when I tell them to throw away the bathroom scales, forget “the diet” and change their Resolution to “become moderately fit”.
I will not delve into the reasons as to why being moderately fit is far more important than being overweight in the management of back pain. Instead I want to provide practical, scientific based advice to people at this time of year of the impact of fitness on their general health, so that everyone can keep being overweight in perspective and enjoy a few extra calories found in the yummy mince pie recipe set out here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1813664/mince-pies by Paul Hollywood.
The reason for this is that researchers, utilising sound scientific analysis, are now advising clinicians, such as me and public health officials, to focus on physical activity and fitness-based interventions rather than weight-loss driven approaches to manage such diseases as cardio vascular disease and diabetes that are in the public eye at present.
A summary of the scientific evidence is that if you compare normal weight-fit individuals and unfit individuals, unfit individuals have twice the risk of an early death no matter what they weigh!
In other words, folks who are overweight and, indeed, obese, but are fit, have similar risks of an early death as normal weight but unfit individuals.
One word of caution is that no one should be morbidly obese but, having said that, it is possible to be fat and fit with normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol levels and normal tolerance to glucose (i.e. not diabetic).
So, how do you become moderately fit?
The good news is that you do not have to join a gymnasium – gradually building up to 30 minutes a day of brisk walking will get you into the moderately fit category and, once there, you will reduce your risk of a heart attack and also the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 50%, for example.
My resolution is to encourage all my patients who are not fit, to become fit by encouraging them to start brisk walking.
What is brisk walking? I have heard it said by a Physician who specialises in exercise medicine that the grim reaper walks at 2.9 m.p.h – so walk briskly at 3.00 m.p.h and you can keep ahead and enjoy the festive season!
The Season’s Greetings.