Made to Move
Doctor Andrew Murray is a GP and sport medicine doctor who will be working at Glasgow 2014. He is also a runner, and in November 2012 he ran 7 ultra marathons in 7 continents on 7 consecutive days. Here, he shares with us the importance of exercising to stay healthy.
Scotland has been inhabited for about 15,000 years. We have always done plenty exercise, initially as hunter gatherers looking to catch food or avoid being eaten, then more latterly working in jobs that involved moving and being active. The second part of the 20th Century changed all this, and now over 50% of jobs are desk jobs. The problem is that we were made to move- the human body has evolved in such a way that regular exercise is a key part of staying well.
When I decided to run over 34 miles per day, from John O’Groats to the Sahara desert (4300km), it was a total leap into the unknown. I did it partly to test the hypothesis I’d read in Chris McDougall’s book “Born to Run” that we have evolved perfectly as persistence hunters, being amongst the best performers in the animal kingdom at running long distances without overheating or breaking down. It proved that an average Joe like myself could do that sort of thing.
During this trip I learned a lot. Lessons included not to wear a kilt while running through deep snow, and that sand dunes will lead to volcanic blisters. I also read a lot about the benefits of exercise. I must admit prior to reading, I just knew I enjoyed getting outside, seeing new things, and getting the happy hormones going but didn’t have a clue about the scale of the health benefits.
Simply put, getting any form of regular exercise is the single best thing you can do for your health. Studies show that it makes us happier and more relaxed, whilst also helping us perform better at school or work.
But it’s all about what we’ve got to gain: who wouldn’t want to be happier, healthier, and more productive? Who wouldn’t want to live an average of 7.2 years longer than your average couch potato? I remember thinking it would be cool if our gold medallists were not the only winners at Glasgow 2014. Could the games inspire Scots and the people of the Commonwealth to get active, and gain more happiness and health?
The Games could be Scotland’s most successful ever. We hope to win lorry loads of medals, inspire athletes of the future, and play a part in getting Scotland moving leading to an increase in Gross National Happiness.
Keep following Do More with Strathmore for Andrew’s tips on how to train for a 5km run, coming soon.
Andrew Murray is a GP, and is working as a Sports Medicine doctor at Glasgow 2014. He works as a doctor with the SportScotland Institute of Sport, having previously been employed as the Scottish Government’s first Physical Activity Champion. As a runner, he has run 2660 miles from John O’Groats to the Sahara and won races in places including the North Pole and Outer Mongolia. He runs for Merrell UK.
Photo credit: Dave MacFarlane