Exercise is medicine: Why helping people stay fit is important to me

Exercise is medicine: Why helping people stay fit is important to me

My mission is to help as many people as I can to feel good physically and mentally. As a British Indian, I was alarmed by statistics indicating Asians are less physically active and have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, in comparison to the white population. This spurred me onto launching my first national campaign at the beginning of lockdown: “Get UK Asians Fit”.

I have been passionately promoting the health benefits of exercise across TV and radio to treat, prevent and reduce risks of rising chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and mental health issues. I believe exercise is an important tool we can use as medicine. It's the miracle cure we've all been waiting for!

The NHS recommends that we do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week, plus a minimum of two strength training workouts a week. The more you do, the better for your health. If you hit the guidelines, it can reduce your risk of developing many long-term (chronic) conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30 per cent.

Research shows that regular exercise can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Exercise for sanity, not vanity. Exercise has more mental health benefits than we realise. During lockdown, I have provided free twice-daily virtual workouts with my family, aimed at keeping people of all ages healthy and mentally positive from home.

My ‘fitness prescription’ is that we incorporate plenty of mobility, cardio, strength and stretching into our daily routines. Another simple yet effective addition to our days is the concept of ‘exercise snacking’. Treat your body and mind to short ‘bites’ of exercise throughout the day. Mine include ‘Feel Good Walk Snacks’ and innovative ‘Stair Snacks’ which are perfect while we’re stuck indoors.

It’s never too late to start investing in your health. Small changes and commitments to moving throughout the day can go a long way towards helping you feel fitter and more able.

Lavina Mehta was awarded an MBE for services to health and fitness during Covid-19. She is an award-winning personal trainer and wellness coach, regularly on TV and radio passionately promoting the health benefits of exercise to treat, prevent and reduce risks of common chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. She is also a big advocate of the mental health benefits of exercise.

*You can catch Lavina’s free Seniors’ Workout sessions every Friday at 10am GMT on Zoom. She also has several 60+ sessions, many translated into Gujarati with her mother-in-law.

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