Exercise is not enough to ward off the risks of sitting still for long periods of time, regular movement is needed, research showsMoving your body at least every half an hour could help to limit the harmful effects of desk jobs and other sedentary life…
As a teenager, William Giraldi would pump himself full of steroids, hit the gym … and secretly read Keats. His new memoir examines the absurdities of modern masculinity and envisages a better world in which his sons don’t get caught in its toxic grip
As a teenage bodybuilder, William Giraldi would hide a battered old Keats paperback between the pages of Muscle & Fitness magazine to read during his evening cardio, a move he calls “a reversal of the classic Playboy mag inside a textbook”. His new memoir, The Hero’s Body, is littered with anecdotes like this: tales of the insecurities and absurdities of masculinity, which document the lengths men go to in order to feel a sense of self-worth in their manhood. Literature, art, music – almost anything that would be of no use on a battlefield – were condemned as effeminate by Giraldi’s family and gym buddies, forcing him to pursue these interests in secret.
“That’s the perfect illustration of the kind of bifurcated life I was leading at the time,” Giraldi says, likening his furtive Keats reading to that of a gay person in the closet. “You’ve got this part of yourself that’s central to yourself, that’s at the hub of you. You can’t express it, you can’t exert it, you can’t walk the way you want to walk in the world because of how you’ll be perceived.”
Public Health England is not up to the task, says Rob Wheway; we all need to stop eating for winter, says Cian Foley; gardening and tai chi can help older people stay fit, says Louise Ansari; what priority is the government giving to preserving urban open spaces for pleasant walks, asks Mark Bryant
Public Health England (PHE) does not understand health. The letter (24 August) from its chief nutritionist, Dr Alison Tedstone, responding to my article on obesity (Want to fight obesity? Stop shrinking pizzas and let children play, 23 August) proves my point. PHE ignores the fact that for countless millennia children ran around near their own homes every day. Healthy exercise for free. Domination of the car in residential roads stopped this happening and the result has been increases in lack of fitness, obesity, diabetes and mental-health-related issues. We know from zoos that keeping mammals confined to small spaces results in poor physical and mental health, which is what has happened to our children.
In the 1850s Londoners were suffering from cholera and dysentery. Quacks and charlatans were offering expensive treatments, therapies and gimmicks which did not work. Joseph Bazalgette built the sewers, and public health improved dramatically. It can be seen that a healthy environment is the first requirement for a healthy population. PHE has not learned the lesson of the 1850s. It emphasises treating obesity rather than creating the environment that will prevent it in the first place. It resorts to substituting synthetic ingredients into food and gimmicks such as 10-minute exercise cartoons which are doomed to fail. We all, particularly children, need a healthy environment. Public Health England is simply not up to the task.
Director, Children’s Play Advisory Service
Public Health England’s research suggests large numbers of adults do not walk for 10 minutes at a time once a month
About 6 million middle-aged people in England are endangering their health by not taking so much as a brisk walk once a month, government advisers have said.
Clinicians said such a lack of exercise increases an individual’s risk of prematurely developing serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and cancer.
NHS ‘healthy towns’ scheme could offer residents rewards in attempt to reduce lifestyle-related illnesses
Families could be offered discounts on their food shopping, cut-price sports gear and free cinema tickets for hitting exercise targets in a drive to reduce the burden of lifestyle-related illness on the NHS.
The proposals, for residents to receive rewards if they walk a specified number of steps, form part of NHS England’s plans for 10 new “healthy towns”, intended to address serious healthcare problems including obesity and dementia.
Less than two-thirds of doctors feel confident discussing activity levels and almost a third have never heard of national guidelinesThe majority of doctors in England are unfamiliar with recommended levels of physical activity, with fewer than two-thir…