No pain, no gain

I caught a taxi home from the train yesterday. It was a very short trip and one we usually walk but I had Ben’s backpack (he walked straight from the train to the University) in addition to my own. Nevertheless I felt bad about sitting in a car when I could have easily walked. I had a nice conversation with the taxi driver who remarked how little traffic there had been since the school holidays started. The amazing thing is children can’t even drive! Those were his words.

Why are we driving our children to school? We are setting them up for poor habits later in life. Children who are used to making short trips by car will continue doing that when they become adults. We worry about our children becoming smokers but a bigger health issue today, in terms of direct attributable mortality, is not smoking but physical inactivity. This research is old but the message just isn’t getting through.

How much exercise should we be doing? The NHS has some guidelines on its site. They say we need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 72 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week. This means you can do 30 minutes of moderate activity on five days each week or 15 minutes of vigorous activity on five days. That’s the minimum. More than that is probably better.

Yes, it’s much easier to drive up a steep hill than walk up but millions of years of human evolution did not involve driving everywhere in cars and our bodies depend on this physical activity for our wellbeing. Without it we get sick, depressed, and risk cognitive decline. It’s like the old saying goes, No pain, no gain.