BIG DEBATE: Does sport on TV encourage physical activity?

England line up to face Ecuador. Picture: PA

England line up to face Ecuador. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

The start of the World Cup on Thursday will herald the beginning of Britain’s summer of sport which involves not just wall-to-wall football on TV but also a fortnight of Wimbledon. While there is no doubt that sport, in all its forms, unites people, there are those who feel it encourages more of us to be couch potatoes, to watch others being active rathter rather than inspiring us to take up sports. This week, plus size runner Julie Creffield exlpains how sport on TV can be inspiring while Dr Zuhair Zarifa, the chairman of Newham CCG says increasing physical activity means people need to make a consious effort to get off the couch.

Julie Creffield, size 18 runner and running blogger.

Julie Creffield, size 18 runner and running blogger. - Credit: Archant

Julie Creffield


- Credit: Archant

“I remember the first time I watched the London Marathon on a Sunday morning vegging out on the sofa in my PJs while thousands of people slogged it out across the capital. “I’d love to do that one day” I thought but then I went back to my inactive and unhealthy ways and life took over. It must have planted a seed though, which eventually grew into an “I wonder if I could” niggle that just wouldn’t go away.

That is what being a spectator of sport does to you. Watching athletes doing amazing things either on TV or in real life just like during the Olympics a few years ago, it makes you want to be more active and perhaps even challenge yourself to try a new sport for the first time. And it’s not just children that can be inspired in this way.

With an amazing summer of sport heading our way it’s easy to get caught up in the commercial side of things buying T-shirts and taking advantage of supermarket deals for cases of beer, so instead why not grab a football and your friends and have your own mini World Cup, or head to your local tennis club to practice your backhand?

Remember, the sporting heros many of us will watch on the TV over the next few months are ordinary people too, they will have been inspired at some point by watching sport just like you, so what you waiting for? Turn your armchair supporting into an “I wonder if” mindset and who knows where it will take you!!

I have run 2 marathons and hundreds of other races in the last few years, all from watching a TV programme on a Sunday morning and now I have truly caught the bug!!”

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Dr Zuhair Zarifa, a Newham GP and chair of NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

“England’s exciting summer of sport is upon us and it’s never been a better time to get active by kicking the football or hitting the cricket ball for six in the local park. Getting out and playing sport is good for your heart, lungs and your mind as it makes you feel more positive.

“As a GP I encourage people to not just sit and watch the sport on TV, but to join in too. Make the most of the weather by getting active to improve your health and wellbeing. Being more physically active can reduce your risk of being diagnosed with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes.

Newham has one of the highest recorded levels of Type 2 diabetes in the UK, with over 18,600 adults diagnosed with the condition and many others living with the condition who don’t know it. Some of the reasons more people today have diabetes is because of lifestyle changes, like longer working hours, eating fast food and fatty and surgery treats and eating larger amounts of food. More people are also spending more time doing idle activities like watching television and playing video games.

One of the easiest ways to make a change is to aim for at least thirty minutes of activity every day where you get up off the couch and move your body. To support residents to make the most of local parks Newham Council is inviting local people to join in ParkLives events over the summer. A common health goal for residents is to lose weight, but this can only be achieved if you eat a balanced diet and exercise more. Doing a dance class or joining a walking group is a great way to move off the couch and make new friends.”