In early September 2013, my travels took me to Frankfurt, Germany to speak about the health benefits of exercise at the annual meeting of the German Society of Sports Medicine and Prevention. This is the oldest sports medicine society in the world and this year they held the Second Congress on Exercise is Medicine Europe. This meeting was organized by my friend Dr. Jurgen Steinacker, who is Professor of Sports Medicine at the University of Ulm. The meeting brought together a great group of experts from around Europe to discuss the global problem of physical inactivity and its effects on health and disease.
Not surprisingly, the same problems we see in the United States stemming from an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle also plague Europe. No longer are infectious diseases like tuberculosis or pneumonia the leading cause of death in the world. Today the leading causes of death are Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s), like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Of course, all of these NCD’s can be prevented or treated by simply walking for 30 min or more each day. For this reason, there is a growing global cadre of physicians and scientists committed to seeing that everyone around the world knows about the health risks of being sedentary and the importance of walking for good health. It was exciting to be a part of this distinguished group and to help design a plan to combat the major public health problem of our time – physical inactivity.
While I was in Frankfurt I was able to do a great deal of walking. Frankfurt is a beautiful city that is the business and financial center of Germany. It is located alongside the river Main (pronounced Mine) and for that reason is referred to in Germany as “Frankfurt am Main”. There are paths up and down both sides of the river that are perfect for walking and of course the city is full of other great spots to walk including a large shopping promenade called the Zeil.
One of the highlights for me was driving on the Autobahn, where of course there are no speed limits. On our way to a great dinner in Weisbaden, Jurgen had his new BMW up to speeds of 240 kilometers per hour – which translates into almost 150 miles per hour! While not as good for you as walking at a brisk pace, it was certainly more exciting.
Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you are well and walking every day!