The Malta Independent 30 September 2022, Friday
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TMID Editorial: The benefits of exercise

Wednesday, 21 September 2022, 12:05 Last update: about 8 days ago

The bombardment of adverts urging people to lead a healthier lifestyle does not seem to be working.

A recent Eorubarometer survey showed that only seven per cent of the Maltese population do some form of exercise or play some kind of sport on a regular basis.

It’s a low figure.

The great majority of people do not exercise or do so quite erratically. The survey shows that 37% said that they seldom exercise or play a sport, while a staggering 31%, nearly one third of the adult population, said that they never exercise.

Over the past years, the government embarked on plans to get the people to live better and longer, and one of the suggestions that is commonly made is for people to exercise. It’s clear that this campaign has not brought about the expected results.

We, as a population, have become more sedentary. Added to this, we are eating less healthily, with many of us relying mostly on snacks and fast food. Just take a look at how many bikers carrying food whizz past by you while in traffic, at any time of the day, to realise how many are not preparing salads but going for burgers and pizza. If this happens once in a while, then there would be nothing wrong with it. But many are resorting to this lifestyle on a regular basis.

It is, then, no wonder that obesity is on the rise. If one does not eat well, and then does not exercise, the consequences are there for all to see.

Naturally, this is having an effect on our health system. And the more time passes, the more the likelihood that our hospitals and clinics will have to deal with a growing number of people who have medical issues relating to their diet.

The government should not ignore the signs. What it has done in terms of campaigns for a better healthy way of living has not worked. It should immediately see what went wrong and try to find ways how to be more effective.

Maybe it should consider explaining the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle in the same way that it does to fight smoking. Cigarette packs contain images that show what happens with smoking. Many people still continue to smoke, but others have managed to stop because they realised the extent of the repercussions of their habit.

Maybe we should have something similar on packaging of food and drink that are not healthy.

Most of all, there should be a stronger concerted effort to get people to take a walk or go for a swim. Lying on a sofa or on a deckchair is not exercise. Neither is being glued to a mobile phone.

Then, each and every one of us should be making the effort. If going to a gym costs money, taking a walk in the countryside or on a promenade is free of charge.

If you do it once, you may do it a second time and get the ball rolling.

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