Small differences can lead to big successes

Published on 25/07/2014

As CMO for the British team at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, I am surrounded by a great of number of nationalities as they arrive from all over the world. They come in all shapes and sizes, each talented enough to compete at the top of their chosen discipline across a multitude of events and physical feats. Fitness levels are high, supported by strict dietary regimes, constant evaluation and the proper preparation. Finally, there are a team of experts on hand in various fields to assess injury or help with recuperative or remedial treatments.

Such dedication to vitality and stamina are of course way beyond the realms of most people’s competence or commitment. For the minority, high-level fitness and performance will be the goal, with a larger minority regularly undertaking exercise to a greater or lesser degree. The rest, some 90% of us, will at best undertake the occasional physical exertion or nothing at all.

It’s too easy to be discouraged by this. Without major effort, any form of activity is seen as pointless, so why bother? The facts are of course completely the opposite. Simple movements, if practised regularly and consistently, can make a significant difference to your short-term and long-term health. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels drop, as your heartbeat and chances of avoiding diabetes or heart disease climb. Energy levels rise yet stress levels fall. Feelings of well-being and personal self-esteem can dramatically improve.

Over the next couple of weeks, competitors in the Glasgow Games will strive to earn their medals, often achieving immortality by the merest margins as they cross the line first, lift the heaviest weight or rack up the most points. A hundredth of a second could be the difference between being remembered forever or forgotten.

Whilst a little bit of activity will not help you live for all time, it could make a huge difference to your future health. It’s not about hard work on the track, at the gym or in the pool, but remembering that every single movement you make is an active one, so making its benefits accessible to all.

It’s a principle less perhaps about the Commonwealth – but more about our common health.