Health fears over Edinburgh’s lack of exercise

Mhairi MacLeod gets regular excercise walking Nigel the chihuahua - but almost two-thirds of the city are not doing enough to stay fit and healthy. Picture: contributed
Mhairi MacLeod gets regular excercise walking Nigel the chihuahua - but almost two-thirds of the city are not doing enough to stay fit and healthy. Picture: contributed
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SHOCKING new figures have revealed that less than a third of people in the Capital are doing the equivalent of half-an-hour walking a day.

A city council survey asked up to 5000 adults across ­Edinburgh how many days in the past week they had done 30 minutes or more of physical activity like a brisk walk or bike ride.

Only 32 per cent of those who responded met the Scottish Government target of at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity each week – as the World Health ­Organization labelled physical inactivity as the fourth biggest global killer.

Chronic disease exercise ­specialist Ann Gates said the figures were part of an 
“epidemic of inactivity”, with physical activity the best method to use to stave off diseases including some cancers, diabetes, 
depression and heart disease.

The founder of Exercise Works, an organisation which works with patients, said a societal shift in lifestyles was needed.

“If only 32 per cent are doing it, this means the majority aren’t,” she said. “People need to recognise that inactivity and sitting is a disease that is really bad for your health, for families and for communities and cities as a whole like Edinburgh.”

Research had found active individuals reduce their risk of heart disease by 40 per cent, high blood pressure can be cut by nearly half, the risk of recurrent breast cancer reduces by 50 per cent and the likelihood of contracting colon cancer goes down by more than 60 per cent.

Benefits to mental health are similarly strong, with the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease decreased by a third and depression eased as effectively as using Prozac or undergoing behavioural therapy.

Chris Oliver, an NHS Lothian surgeon who lost 11 stone after his weight spiralled out of control, said there needs to be a “huge societal change with physical activity”. He said: “I think a lot of people don’t realise that breaking up the recommendations, which is 150 minutes a week for adults, you can easily do in ten minute bouts, just by walking about.”

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com