While researching our last blog post – just 10 minutes of walking a week will prolong your life – we uncovered the startling statistic from 2017 that British adults spend longer on the toilet than exercising.
British adults spend an average of 3 hours and 9 minutes on the toilet each week, compared to just 1 hour and 30 minutes doing moderate exercise.
Only 1 in 10 of UK adults know the NHS recommended physical activity guidelines.
64% of the UK population spend at least six hours each day sitting, greatly increasing the risk of premature death.
Work is the biggest barrier to being more active, with 20% of people saying that work pressures prevent them from being more physically active.
The research, commissioned by non-profit organisation ukactive, questioned just over 2,000 people about their weekly routine. It revealed that British adults sit on the toilet for 3 hours and 9 minutes every week. By comparison they do just an hour and a half of moderate exercise like cycling or walking.
A contributing factor to the state of Britain’s health was discovered to be wide-spread ignorance of national exercise guidelines. The study also showed that only 12% of people were aware of the NHS weekly exercise guidelines. These recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. Even this small amount will reap big health benefits – a 40% reduced risk of diabetes, a 35% decrease in chances of cardiovascular disease, a reduction in dementia rates by 30% and a 20% lower chance of getting some cancers.
In addition to these findings, the study found that over two thirds of us spend 6 or more hours a day sitting, with a combination of sitting at work and after-work TV viewing being the two main culprits.
Professor Sir Muir Gray CBE of the NHS said: “Physical inactivity is society’s silent killer and even short bouts of being sedentary can lead to deadly diseases. People often think exercise is only for young people, but older adults are the people who stand to gain most from the mental, social and physical benefits of being active.
“Furthermore, the effects of ageing are often complicated by the effects of disease – not because ageing causes disease but because the prevalence of diseases increases with age, not because of ageing but because people have lived longer in our modern unhealthy environment. So older people get a double benefit because improved fitness is – in the words of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – the miracle cure.”
How can you be more active?
We are very fortunate to live in a developed and well organised country, with a huge range of exercise options available to most people. Bootcamps, dance classes, personal trainers, walking groups, Zumba classes, gym classes, village hall exercise groups, aquarobics and cycling groups will all be available to most of us locally.
The usual cliches are also surprisingly effective; taking the stairs, cycling to work, using a basket instead of a trolley at the supermarket and parking in the furthest spot from your destination will all help get you up to the 150 minutes. Smart technology can also help to increase activity level. Smart fitness trackers will remind you to move every hour and can provide motivation to meet daily activity targets. There are lots of ways to increase activity levels that are not too challenging or strenuous.
Just a few small changes to your lifestyle will add up to a big difference in health and longevity.