I remember when en route running to the Sahara desert feeling a little ashamed. I had been a doctor for about 6 years, but ironically (given that I had just a 4300km run to the Moroccan desert) had not grasped just how good exercise is for health. I had not been communicating this to my patients prior to this time
Simply put regular exercise gets the happy hormones going and makes you happier. It also helps prevent and treat about 40 major diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and dementia (although athlete’s foot is more likely).
Worldwide (with a few honourable exceptions including Western Australia and Brazil, policy makers have been burying their head in the sand and hoping that the problem of physical inactivity would go away. This is consigning our children to a darker economic future than is necessary (type 2 diabetes costs the UK NHS £1million per hour) and stopping people be as happy and healthy as is possible.
So the report produced by the UK Parliament Health Committee is welcome, and highlights that major action is needed. I do think in Scotland more has been done, but we need to increase the pace and scale of what is happening.
Here are a few really useful concrete recommendations from the Scottish Academy of Royal Colleges on what the NHS could do, which I contributed to in my role with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.