Assembly Speaker, 24 June 2019 – Dan Thompson
Dan Thompson, our assembly speaker, is currently touring the world by foot in his Run The World campaign in aid of Cancer Research UK. With an aim of running 2,500,000m in 206 countries - a metre for every UK cancer sufferer - Thompson is devoted to promoting the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle. As of 24 June, he has been to 173 countries, run 1870km and raised $52683 with the final leg to be completed in Hampstead Heath on 4th July 2020, alongside many volunteers, some of whom he hoped would be camden students!
In many countries, Thompson was met with encouragement from fellow runners and the running conditions were excellent, however, in others, completing a run had great risks. There were physical factors such as incredibly high temperatures in South Sudan where he almost suffered a heat stroke, along with high altitudes in Bolivia where he was provided with air canisters and cocoa leaves (apparently chewing the leaves clears your throbbing head and lets you breathe again) from the British Embassy. On top of these there were also social factors, for example, with the strict laws in North Korea, the safest way to run is by joining the annual Pyongyang marathon. Another example he gave us was Caracas (Venezuela) which has one of the highest murder rates in the world and you are very likely to be mugged therefore it is a very unsafe environment for a runner. However, every day at 6am in one of the local parks, thousands of people come together and run. Following this, Thompson touched upon social running and how even in some of the worst living conditions, it can be a form of both mental and physical release.
Thompson’s approach to highlighting the importance of living a healthy lifestyle was through the anagram BEANS:
Making sure you are at a healthy weight for your height
Active lifestyles reduce the risk of a wide range of diseases, illnesses as well as mental health problems, slow down aging and improve academic performance. Thompson stated that at our age (or for any 5-18 year old), we should be active at least one hour every day whereas for adults it was 2.5 hours weekly; this includes walking to places e.g. school. At this point, the assembly turned interactive as Thompson encouraged us to try out simple exercises that can be done in a seat such as the ‘butt clench’, ‘fab abs’, ‘thunder thighs’ and ‘shapely calves’.
Alcohol misuse increases the risk of accidents and injuries, for example, he noted that most injuries of those our age are alcohol induced. Moreover, consumption increases the chance of cancer, heart and liver disease, weight gain and can damage the brain over time.
In this section Thompson talked about being calorie sensible varying from changing our diets to include at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily to cutting down on sugar, salt and processed foods.
Here, he stressed that the best way for smokers to improve their health is to stop smoking completely as anything that goes down your airways (including pollution) is bad. He also informed us that half of all long term smokers die early from smoking related diseases e.g. heart disease, lung cancer as well as chronic bronchitis and that not smoking improves your skin and gives you a clearer head.
Overall, if an individual sticks to the BEANS lifestyle, females can live up to 14 years longer and males 12 years - even adopting one healthy habit can increase your life expectancy by 2 years. 40% of cancers can also be avoided with solely being active and healthy.
To follow, Thompson gave us a list of links to organisations that do exercise in a fun way such as doing the shopping for the elderly.
Dan Thompson’s assembly was very engaging, informative, and the interactive aspect showed us that you can be active whenever and wherever.
Abigail, Sixth Form Head Girl