Childhood exercise has a protective effect on health later in life.
While active childhood reduces obesity ( Zwaargewichten) in the short term, long term benefits might even be more crucial. Recent studies show, that the more exercise children had during adolescence, the more likely they were to be successful professionally. The reason for this is, that fitness at a young age is directly related to the developing brain, which does not complete its formation until one’s 20s.
In addition, adolescents who regular exercise, are more motivated to exercise as adults.
2 in 3 Portuguese are endangering their health by not taking enough exercise, leading to serious health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, cancers (breast and bowel), depression and dementia.
Walking for 10 – 20 minutes at a brisk pace every day (150 minutes a week is recommended), not just increases fitness and improves mood, but also reduces the risk of early death by 15%, according to the World Health Organization.
Walking requires no special skills or equipment and is acceptable for most people.
Cycling is a good alternative to using the car. It not only reduces traffic congestion but also benefits the environment and health. Regular cycling ( 45 km a week) cuts the risk of death from any cause by 40% and the incidence of heart disease and cancer by 45%.
But is cycling a realistic option in Lisbon, known as the city of seven hills?
The Lisboa Horizontal project calculated, that 65% (nearly 700 km) of its streets have less than 4% inclination and hence accessible by bike.
In June EMEL, the city’s transport body, introduced 100 public hire bikes – two-thirds of them electric –and 10 docking stations in the Parque das Nações neighborhood.
This number is to be extended to 1400 bikes – 950 electric ones to cope with the hilly parts –being installed in the flatter parts of Lisbon – the Plateau area, the touristic Baixa and along the waterfront of the Tagus river.
The biggest problem, however, isn’t hills but the prevailing car culture. Lisbon takes first place in all EU capitals when it comes to car use.
Moreover, Portuguese parking is incredibly selfish and vehicles regularly block cycle tracts, jeopardizing safe cycling.
Change is not easy for everyone to swallow. Last week local residents, in the Alvalade and Avenidas Novas neighborhoods, complained about losing parking places, forcing EMEL to remove 15 brand-new docking stations from the area.
A luta continua – the fight goes on!
BOM FIM DE SEMANA