National Fitness Day - a great way to kick start an active lifestyle

national fitnessday

As the nation gears up for National Fitness Day, leading consultant in diabetes Dr Mayank Patel talks about how activity can be the best medicine when it comes to long term health.

National Fitness Day is a great way to mobilise the country to be more active. As we will see today, this initiative is not just for highly toned and ultra fit, this is for anyone and everyone who could just do with a bit more activity in their lives.Dr Mayank Patel

Anything that gets people more active, means that fewer people will present at hospital with conditions that could have been helped by regular exercise.

Initiatives like National Fitness Day are an excellent way of raising the profile of how crucial regular exercise is in maintaining good health and can be associated with a reduced risk of developing conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Another benefit of exercise can help the body to release ‘endorphins’ which help diminish pain while triggering positive feelings. They're sometimes referred to as the brain's "feel-good" chemicals, and are the body's natural painkillers. They also help preserve muscle strength, which is another benefit of keeping fit through regular exercise.

And it doesn’t have to mean marathon runs or signing up to gym classes, if the very idea of donning lycra makes you shudder.

You may have heard of an initiative called exercise snacking. That concept is based on research that involved a relatively small amount of people but that yielded some interesting findings.

The concept is about breaking down large periods of exercise into manageable chunks, particularly for people who don’t think they can fit any organised fitness activity into their busy lives.

It could mean popping out with colleagues for a brisk lunchtime walk, opting for the stairs instead of a lift or choosing to walk to the shops instead of taking the car. Activity in any form and for as long as you are able is the message.

Approximately 700 new cases of Type 2 diabetes are being diagnosed each day in the UK, according to Diabetes UK.

Treating diabetes and associated complications currently costs the NHS approximately £1.6 million pounds an hour or the equivalent of £6bn a year - and that figure is rising.

Along with the current National Diabetes Prevention Programme, raising awareness of what people can do for themselves to reduce their future risk of developing the condition is absolutely vital. Today is an excellent opportunity to kick-start a fitter lifestyle.