Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Michael McBride has launched a guide to help people to stay active and healthy using simple steps every day.
The Start Active, Stay Active infographic which is being launched across the UK, and endorsed by the CMO’s from each jurisdiction, highlights easy ways to lead an active and healthy life, doing everyday activities like carrying shopping bags upstairs and walking to work.
Speaking about the launch Dr McBride said: “In 2013/14, research shows 61% of adults and 25% of children (2-10 years of age) in Northern Ireland were either overweight or obese. Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six UK deaths and up to 40% of many long term health conditions.
“This is not something we can simply ignore – it is a growing concern. Regular physical activity is an important element in contributing to maintaining a healthy weight and can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better.
“Sometimes people need some inspiration to make positive changes to their lives. Inspiration can come from many places, from a health scare, from pressure from friends and families, or from a personal desire to improve their personal health and wellbeing.”
The launch of the infographic is complementary to Making Life Better, the Executive’s 10-year overarching strategic framework for public health. Dr McBride continued: “The Making Life Better strategy provides strategic direction for policies and actions to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities in health. We want individuals and communities to be active in improving their own health. This means we will work with people to address agreed priorities and build on the assets we have in our communities to improve health.
“This infographic is a useful, clear and simple way to provide information to the public. Just two and a half hours a week of increased physical activity can have long term benefits. This guide encourages people to walk, cycle, dance, swim and take the stairs. Remember, doing something is better than nothing and it’s never too late to become active and healthy. Everybody should try to reduce the amount of time they spend being sedentary, that is sitting watching television, or playing the computer. Even at work we should be taking opportunities to get up and move about more throughout the day instead of sitting at our desks.”
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, who also attended the launch said: “Physical activity can have a wide range of benefits to health, such as helping to manage weight, reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions including some cancers and type 2 diabetes, and helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
“While the guideline of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week might sound like a lot, by breaking it down into smaller chunks of 30 minutes per day at least five days a week, it becomes a lot more achievable. By building physical activity into everyday life, such as walking to work or getting off a bus stop early and walking the rest of our journey, we can get the exercise we need and feel the benefits to our health.”
PDF link to Start Active, Stay Active infographic