FIVE MYTHS OF FEMALE FITNESS
You eat healthily, work out at least three times a week, keep your weight on track and hardly drink a thing – in fact you can’t get much healthier than you. Or so you’d like to think.
Most of us tell ourselves a few little health fibs every now and again, but convince yourself that regular takeaways constitutes a healthy diet and you could be doing all sorts of damage to your health. Here, we uncover some of the most common untruths.
1. I’m fit – I walk everywhere
Swapping the car, tube or bus for the power of your own feet is clearly a step up in the fitness stakes but when it comes to fitness, there’s walking and there’s walking. ‘You need to find your optimum walking pace,’ says diet and movement specialist Joanna Hall.
‘Start walking and gradually pick up speed until you feel yourself involuntarily breaking into a jog. From here drop back slightly – you should feel like you’re walking with purpose and much faster than you usually would, you’ll be slightly out of breath but should still be able to hold a conversation.’
2. I’m not fat. I’m just big boned
As Britain gets fatter it’s not hard to kid yourself that being overweight is normal. A survey by Slimming World found only seven per cent of people believe they are obese – yet 27 per cent of the population has a BMI of more than 30, which puts them in the obese category.
Being overweight significantly raises your risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and various cancers – so being honest about it is crucial. Get a reality check by calculating your BMI for free at http://www.slimmingworld.com
3. A few cigarettes when I’m out won’t hurt
Social smoking isn’t dangerous – so say social smokers, but according to Brian Jones of QUIT, there’s no safe level of smoking. ‘Even if you only smoke occasionally you are still subjecting your body to potential health risks through the harmful chemicals in cigarettes,’ he says.
If you smoke just one to four cigarettes a day you have a significantly greater risk of dying from lung cancer or heart disease than non-smokers. Get help with giving up now by calling the Quitline on 0800 00 22 00.
4. I don’t need to worry about cancer because it doesn’t run in my family
While it’s true cancers such as breast and testicular can be hereditary, not having a family history of cancer doesn’t mean you’re automatically safe.
‘Less than ten per cent of the 46,000 cases of breast cancer that are diagnosed in Britain each year are due to hereditary causes,’ says Jackie Harris, clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care.
‘So it’s vital you check your breasts regularly and report any changes quickly to your GP.’ Men should regularly check for symptoms of breast, testicular and prostate cancer too.
Testicular and prostate cancers affect 36,000 men in this country each year and 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year too. Find out more at http://www.everyman.org.
5. I’m not a binge drinker
You might not wake up in a gutter every Saturday morning but if you’re male and drink more than eight units (four pints of standard-strength beer) in a night or female and knock back six units (three small glasses of wine) in a sitting then you are a binge drinker according to Dr Rachel Seabrook, research manager for the Institute of Alcohol Studies.
‘Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of a wide range of diseases,’ she warns, ‘including liver disease, several cancers, high blood pressure and, of course, addiction. Bingeing also brings additional risks such as injuries from accidents or violence.’
Keep a check on your drinking by totting up how many units you’re getting through in a week.