The Vancouver Olympic Games came to a close yesterday after two weeks of spectacular performances and winter medal records for both the U.S. and Canada. This display of elite athleticism and Olympic spirit has impressed viewers around the world – particularly last night’s gold medal shot by hockey’s #87, Canadian national hero, Sidney Crosby (full disclosure: I’m Canadian).
The dedication and discipline of these Olympic athletes is awe-inspiring. And while we mere mortals may never achieve Olympic glory, we can certainly find joy in physical activity and gain the satisfaction that fitness provides. Steven N. Blair, Professor at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, made a compelling case for daily physical activity when he recently visited the Rudd Center as a Spring Seminar Series presenter. In his charismatic tone, Blair shed light on the “biggest public health problem of the 21st century” – physical inactivity.
Here are some of his statements that I found most striking:
• The best insurance you can get to stay out of the nursing home is to be physically active. It reduces risk of senile dementia, improves brain health, and preserves your ability to function.
• The government recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. "But it important to note, anything is better than nothing.”
• Being moderately physically active on a regular basis cuts your risk of premature death in half.
Blair contends that if everyone walked for ten minutes, three times a day we would not have the obesity-related morbidity and mortality rates we now see. “It is never too late,” he said, “it is safe to start, and you can improve your function.”