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News about Britain
Intro: Fit or fat?
Doctors in Britain are warning of an obesity time bomb, when children who are already overweight grow up. So, what should we do? Exercise more? Eat less? Or both? The government feels it has to take responsibility for this expanding problem.

Tell us your suggestions for keeping fit. Share your ideas on diet and exercise.
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The cheerful Mr Pickwick, the hero of the novel by Charles Dickens, is seen in illustrations as someone who is plump - and happy. In 18th century paintings beauty is equated with rounded bodies and soft curves. But nowadays being overweight is seen as indicating neither a cheerful character nor beauty but an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

So what do you do? Diet? Not according to England's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson. He says that physical activity is the key for reducing the risks of obesity, cancer and heart disease. And the Health Secretary John Reid even said that being inactive is as serious a risk factor in heart disease as smoking.

So, having bought some cross trainers, how much exercise should you do? According to Sir Liam Donaldson, at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. Is going to the gym the answer? Luckily for those who find treadmills tedious, the Health Development Agency believes that physical activity that fits into people's lives may be more effective. They suggest taking the stairs rather than the lift, walking up escalators, playing active games with your children, dancing or gardening. And according to a sports psychologist, Professor Biddle, gyms 'are not making the nation fit', and may even cause harm.

There's new scientific evidence that too much exercise may actually be bad for you. Scientists at the University of Ulster have found that unaccustomed aerobic exercise releases dangerous free radicals that can adversely affect normal function in unfit people. The only people who should push their bodies to that level of exercise on a regular basis are trained athletes.

So, should we forget about gyms and follow some expert's advice to reduce sedentary activities and increase exercise in our daily life? After all, getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way can't do any harm! One final thought. How come past generations lacked gym facilities but were leaner and fitter than people today?

obesity time bomb
here, a problem which will happen in the future caused by people being too fat now
take responsibility
has decided it is appropriate for them to act
overweight - a neutral word
weighing too much - a negative word
heart disease
any of the diseases that affect the heart and circulatory system
where a clot of blood reaches the brain and may cause partial paralysis
a condition where your body can't control the amount of sugar in your blood
physical activity
also know as cardiovascular (CV) activity - getting you heart to beat faster
being inactive
not doing anything that raises your heartbeat
risk factor
something that makes a problem more likely to happen
cross trainers
shoes which you can use for different sports and exercise
moderate activity
defined in terms of the increase over resting heart rate when you're not doing anything
a place where you can find exercise machines such as bicycles, and maybe a swimming pool
find treadmills tedious
think that running machines are boring
physical activity that fits into people's lives
using as exercise what you always do
active games
games which make your heart work
improving your private garden for pleasure by planting flowers and vegetables. One of the top leisure activities in Britain
unaccustomed aerobic exercise
CV exercise when you're not used to it
free radicals
by-products which happen during exercise and can cause damage to the wall of the cell
push their bodies
go to the limit of their performance
that level of exercise
as much exercise as that
regular basis
if you do something on a regular basis you do it at equal intervals over a long period of time
sedentary activities
doing things which involve sitting down
I believe I take enough exercise


Results so far:

1: yes
2: no
Total votes so far: 5611
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Do gyms make you fit?
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Daily life is good exercise
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Devon: Swimming
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Wales: Big Fat Problem Roadshow
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Northern Ireland: Sporadic exercise can harm
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Free radicals
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