Being Fit for Your Life

Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh
Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh

Take a break! ‘Take 5 for your health’
For many years, regular physical activity has been advocated for preventing and treating chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to commit to exercise, or simply find it hard to find the time. Adding exercise to a day that may already be over-filled with work and family responsibilities in addition to financial constraints, transport difficulties, lack of access to training venues or supervised programs, may pose barriers that seem insurmountable.

If this is you, Take a break! may be a more realistic solution. Recent studies suggest that sedentary behaviour – sitting or lying – for long uninterrupted periods of the day is also a risk factor for many chronic diseases. Too much sitting time, particularly if it is largely uninterrupted (without breaks) poses a health threat in itself including insulin resistance and elevated lipid levels and increased body fat. After all, the human body was designed to keep moving, not sit for hours on end! The good news is that breaking up sitting time is free, requires no extra time or expense, can be done anywhere, doesn’t need trainers or equipment or a trip to a gym.

Here’s how easy it is to take a break and take 5:
Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh is a geriatrician, Professor of Medicine and John Sutton Chair of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Sydney. Her research, clinical and teaching career has focused on the integration of medicine, exercise physiology, and nutrition as a means to improving quality of life across the lifespan, with a particular focus on the elderly. She is founder and executive director of the non-profit Fit For Your Life Foundation. Her favourite sport is fencing.