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12 Aug 2006

Can you change the day you die? According to the findings of a study investigating the diet, environment, lifestyle and health of over half a million people from across Europe, you can.

The European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) study examined the impact of all four areas on life expectancy. It revealed that by exercising more, improving your diet and stopping smoking, you could potentially add an extra 11 years to your time on earth.

The basics of good health might be straightforward but far too many people are getting them wrong. Consequently far too many people are dying younger than they should be.

By choosing to drive to the newsagent, remain at your desk during your lunchbreak or spend your evenings in front of the television, you could be cutting your life short by three years. Similarly by skipping your five portions of fruit and vegetables you will be taking off another three years and if you smoke, a further five years. Bad news then for those guilty of all three offences who are dramatically downsizing their life expectancy.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Reassuringly the study also revealed how simple it is to turn things around. When it comes to adding years to your life it’s the little things that count.

The findings are validation of the key messages of Health Challenge Wales – the national focus for action to improve health and wellbeing in Wales. Launched in 2004, it identified food and fitness, smoking, alcohol and substance misuse, accidents and injures, infections and mental health and wellbeing as the key themes of the challenge, with the central message that small steps can make a big difference.

Supporting the Welsh Assembly in their quest to improve the health of the nation, the Sports Council for Wales has stepped with some advice on their specialist subject. They want to seen more people more active, more often and are urging individuals to take some simple exercise steps to improve their overall health and lengthen their life.

A recent Sports Council survey reveled that less than one third of adults in Wales are active for the recommended 30 minutes on five or more days of the week, which equates to just 1.5% of your total time in a seven day week. When considering minimal investment of time, there is little excuse for adults not to up their activity levels.