There is a man, let’s call him Stewart. He is dying. Not quietly in his sleep like many would wish to but instead publicly and in great agony. “Stewart” is our NHS and like Stewart this great idea is dying on its knees. The NHS was the brainchild of a certain Aneurin Bevan who instigated the system while serving as minister for health in Clement Attlee’s Labour government, which came into power in 1945 and the NHS was created two years later in 1948. The system, however, was never designed to cope with this many people and the ageing population we now find ourselves trying to cure. In fact, part of the original draft that brought the system into operation stated that although you now have a right to “free” (paid through taxes) healthcare you/the individual has a responsibility to stay healthy and exercise frequently to alleviate pressure on the NHS which was never destined to cope with such pressures as it faces now.

It is a fact that dealing with obesity is a mountainous task not only is it monumentally expensive costing the NHS a “massive £6 billion annually and this is set to rise to over £9.7 billion each year by 2050” according to a government survey. However, the focus shouldn’t be on fat reducing drugs and expensive surgery but instead on encouraging exercise. We all know that exercise is good for you. We all know that it’d be better to live a less sedentary lifestyle. We all know this but why don’t we act on it? It can’t purely be because we are all straight up lazy, surely there has to be another reason. Could it be that there is more acceptance of weight gain or could hidden calories be having an effect? Either way increasing exercise is key.

I’m not here to preach but merely to suggest that tax-payers money is spent in a more productive way. According to scientists “being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain many health benefits” however surely anyone could see these facts in action. Clearly if it was this easy however everyone would be imitating Hercules as they walk around muscle-Ville with their pal Adonis and pet Cerberus on a lead.

Excuses range from “It's too expensive” to “I'm already thin” and everything else in the middle. However, to stay vaguely on topic and avoid an embarrassing rant I will tackle these two stated issues, with the latter (already thin) I would suggest that prevention is better than cure and therefore continuing to exercise is the best approach. With the former I think lockdown amongst other things has proved that exercise doesn’t have to be expensive, you don’t need a gym membership to stay fit as there are literally hundreds of free online exercise classes such as Joe Wicks that often require very little equipment if any to participate in. Also exercise can take many forms and can often be cheaper than commuting or driving/public transport to places.

Exercise, in my opinion, should be prescribed instead of many drugs that have multiple negative side effects not in the least addiction. Exercise’s positive mental health benefits are well known but this doesn’t make them any less true. Exercise releases endorphins which are hormones that literally make you feel the sensation of happiness, what more can you ask for?

Now I’m not suggesting you go out and run a marathon or spend £14,000 on a snazzy new push bike. What I am suggesting is that we merely turn towards a more progressive attitude towards obesity. No longer one of “if I ignore it, it will go away” but one of meaningful change. This could be done by simply walking to work or making a commitment with a friend to exercise once a week. This being because so called co-active exercise is more likely to motivate both performers and you are more likely to stick to your goal. Small steps in the right direction are better than no steps. Also, as I feel in last month’s article, I slated the government I would like to highlight something more positive. They are now trialling a “New pilot to help people eat better and exercise more” through an app that tracks and rewards exercise, so fair play Mr government.