Yes, I am behind with my conference updates. The conference is wonderful: informative, stimulating, thought-provoking and, at times, cutting edge. Thus, I am roundly exhausted from having missed out on a weekend and have been the frame early morning until well after 6.
I had two favourtie talks, but here is a summary of my absolute favorite talk on Sunday
So, we are all aware of the media jumping on the ‘exercise does not help weight loss’ bandwagon. The Observer, TIME, NY times have all published extensive articles with this eye catching title (or some similar variant). What is the AHA’s position? I think we can sum it up with the title of the session my first summary comes from:
Exercise as a global primary and secondary preventative intervention
The speaker introduced the importance of exercise, and of daily regular movement (stop sniggering at the back). He introduced the concept that outside of leisure activities, research now supports the jdea that sitting, for repeated and extended periods of time, in and of itself, is very bad for us. What we call ‘Sedentary death syndrome’.
Before you respond: oh, another risk factor, why should I bother? Consider this: research now suggests that this Emerging entity, as a lifestyle mediated risk factor, may Increase the relative risk for all cause mortality by 60-80%. And it is defined as “Prolonged periods of sitting outside of daily activity”. We need to get active in our daily lives.
He found that the Biggest reduction of risk occurred from between the least fit to next least fit. I.e. just a small amount of exercise in your daily life can make a huge difference (Williams 2001). Then he changed tack slightly as said that it was More important to be aerobically fit not physically active (probably). The increase in health for just being active is small, the difference comes as you become aerobically conditioned. Aerobic exertion can be defined in METs. For each and every increase in 1 MET during physical activity in daily leisure, there is a13% decrease in all cause mortality and a 15% decrease in cardiovascular events. These are impressive effect sizes, and intense physical activity, even for short bursts, really hold promise for increasing life, reducing disease and increasing quality of life.
Despite this, I was shocked and saddened to find out that significant leisure time physical activity only occurs in 31% in of the US population. This is something that I still struggle with: why aren’t people even making an effort to be more active? What is it that we, as Scientists, Psychologists and Public health proponents need to do to get people moving? Do we need to convince people of the benefits – is the message not getting through? Do we need to convince people of the detriment of not being psychically active? Do we need to find more ways for people to be physically active – what are people’s barriers? This fascinates me. If anyone who is not physically active can share, I would love to hear from you.
So, the speaker echoed this. He said one of the most important avenues of research lies in the exploration of different ways to get the population active
Did you know, that resting metabolic rate is 1 MET, and the slowest walking speed is 2 METS? This is double energy expenditure and while increasing intensity has important benefits for health, if you currently do nothing, a daily 30-40 minute walk is a huge step up for your health. Make it a brisk walk when you can and so even more for yourself, and your family.
The message is now clear and published in the Journal of Preventative Cardiology: Move more. Sit less. Check it out:
Any ‘subthreshold’ physical activity has benefits.
Of course, many of us are searching for the PolyPill to help prevent us get CVD (yes, out lifestyles are so bad, we are now looking at multiple medications to negate them. Sad people, very sad). The message is: yes, with the PolyPill lies hope. IF it is taken with a full glass of physical activity.
Look after yourself, Look after your friends, your family and your children. Get up and move. Every day. With your children, while your family is sleeping, in your lunch break, while watching TV: however, whenever, with whomever you do it: as Nike say: Just Do It.