“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” John F Kennedy
The growing number of diabetics and the disconcerting number of projected prediabetics are now making us look at behaviour and lifestyle modification including exercise as an important preventive and therapeutic strategy.
Exercise is very important in maintaining the energy balance for long term weight loss, which would need unrealistic dietary calorie restrictions on its own. In the UK,
66 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women over the age of 19 meet the guidelines for participation in at least moderate intensity activity. Along with a 44% increase in gym spending in the last year, mainly due the availability of budget gyms, there is an increase in activities such as cycling, park runs and open water swimming. Running is now the fastest-growing sport in the country. Sport England revealed that 35.5% of people participated in at least one sport once a week, with swimming and running being the most common.
What is driving these numbers is the adoption of technology such as high-tech sports gear as well as wearables and mobile applications that track and monitor results,providing feedback and even mentor fitness enthusiasts. This group is 45% more likely than the average Internet user to download free apps once a fortnight and they are 35% more likely download paid apps two to three times per week. They are 33% more likely than the average British adult to own a smartphone and 52% more likely to own a tablet. 46% of this group access the Internet more than once a day on their mobile device. In the past four weeks, they have spent an average time of 685 minutes on Facebook, 73 minutes on Twitter and 36 minutes on Pinterest.
One of the issues with the wearables adoption is that the people most likely to use wearables are those who need them least. A survey found 48 percent of users are younger than 35, affluent and highly motivated. A further evolution of technology is required to increase affordability, ease of use and ultimately to increase adoption of wearable health promoting devices.
Unfortunately, the adoption of exercise as a consistent lifestyle behaviour is hindered by psychological barriers which include low fitness, pain, boredom, lack of stimuli, comparison with other individuals, body image dissatisfaction, time and weather constraints. Cognitive strategies by motivational and mental health professionals may help to make physical exercise enjoyable, personalised and sustained. If needed other enjoyable forms of exercise may need to be adopted. Such an endeavour can be done using telehealth and mobile technology so as to suit the time and place of both the provider and the client.