According to the WHO (2014), Non-communicable Disease country profiles, most percentage of mortality by cause is in Sri Lanka, in 2014 was cardiovascular disease (40%). Lack of exercise or any physical activity is responsible for 30% mortality in men and 60% of death rate in women. It is the most important cause of preventable deaths all over the world. Some of the daily life activities which lead to a sedentary lifestyle are reading, sitting, watching television, use of the computer and playing video games. Diseases whose risk factor increases due to a lack of exercise are formation of kidney stones, liver disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, obesity, osteoporosis and clotting of blood.
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk for many chronic diseases. There are many different types of exercise; it is important that you pick the right types for you. Most people benefit from a combination of them: Did you know? When you are not physically active, you are more likely to:
- Get heart disease
- Get type 2 diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high blood cholesterol
- Have a stroke
What is physical activity?
Did you know? Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. Some of your daily life activities -- doing active chores around the house, yard work, walking the dog -- are examples. To get the health benefits of physical activity, include activities that make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier. These aerobic activities include things like brisk walking, running, dancing, swimming, and playing basketball. “The employee wellness programme at my work just started with a new lunchtime walking programme. Some of us walk at a good clip, while others move at a slower pace. I get to be outdoors, and I feel more alert on the days I walk.
Less active and less fit people have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure
Getting Started to think about adding physical activity to your life, but not sure how to start? Sometimes taking the first step is the hardest part. If you have not been active for some time, start at a comfortable level and add a little more activity as you go along. Some people find that getting active with a friend makes it easier to get started. Is something holding you back? Think about reasons why you have not been physically active. Then try to come up with some ways to get past what is keeping you from getting active. Have you said to yourself . . . ? I haven’t been active for a very long time.
Solution: Choose something you like to do. Many people find walking helps them get started. Before you know it, you will be doing more each day. I don’t have the time. Solution: Start with 10-minute chunks of time a couple of days a week. Walk during a break. Dance in the living room to your favorite music. It all adds up.
Effects of lack of physical exercise
Lack of physical activity for a long time is found to cause wide ranging metabolic and structural changes in the body. Some of these bodily changes are declining in the physical endurance, rise in the heart beat, reduction in the blood volume and partial or complete wastage of bones and muscles.
Benefits of physical fitness: Staying, active means is keeping your body functioning at a high level. Regular exercise will maintain the performance of your lungs and heart to most efficiently burn off excess calories and keep your weight under control. Exercise will also improve muscle strength, increase joint flexibility and improve endurance.
Another main benefit of physical activity is that it decreases the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. Additionally, it can decrease your risk of stroke, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Regular exercise has been long associated with a fewer visits to the doctor, hospitalization and medication.
Exercising does not have to be something boring and dreaded. It can be something that you enjoy that helps to increase the overall happiness in your life, as well as relieve symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Try to find some activities that give you pleasure or even a buddy to do them with so that exercise is a fun and enjoyable activity (and one that you continue on a regular basis because it adds something good to your life).
What health risks are linked to physical inactivity?
Lack of physical activity has clearly been shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other conditions:
- Less active and less fit people have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Physical activity can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Studies show that physically active people are less likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who are inactive. This is even after researchers accounted for smoking, alcohol use, and diet.
- Lack of physical activity can add to feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Physical inactivity may increase the risk of certain cancers.
- Physically active overweight or obese people significantly reduced their risk for disease with regular physical activity.
- Older adults who are physically active can reduce their risk for falls and improve their ability to do daily activities.
What a physical activity can do for you?
It is not what you are doing, as much as it is whether or not you are doing something. Any type of moderate activity like walking, swimming, biking or organized sports can contribute to your physical fitness. Explore your fitness options at your local gym, community center or community college for courses and organized activities that may suit your lifestyle and interests.
To get the most benefit, you should begin by warming up for 5 - 10 minutes to increase your blood flow and prepare your body for activity. Follow the warm up with several minutes of stretches to increase your flexibility and lower your risk for injury. Complete your selected exercise or activity for 20 - 30 minutes and conclude the workout with 5 - 10 minutes of cool down and stretching.
You may have heard the good things you can gain from regular physical activity. Check off which of these benefits you hope to get from active living: Be healthier, increase your chances of living longer and feel better about yourself. Have less chance of becoming depressed sleep better at night help you look good in shape get around better. Have stronger muscles and bones. Help you stay at or get to a healthy weight. Be with friends or meet new people. Enjoy yourself and have fun strengthening activities to make your muscles stronger, like sit-ups and lifting weights.
Choose activities that work all the different parts of the body—your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. Exercises for each muscle group should be repeated 8 - 12 times per session. Try some of these activities a couple of days a week:
- Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
- lifting weights
- Push-ups on the floor or against the wall
- Working with resistance bands (long, wide rubber strips that stretch)
Tip: Some people like resistance bands because they find them easy to use and put away when they are done. Others prefer weights; you can use common grocery items, such as bags of rice.
Advice to follow: You should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level. OR you should do at least one hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level. Do it your way. You can replace some or all of your moderate activity with vigorous activity. With vigorous activities, you get similar health benefits in half the time it takes you with moderate ones.
Muscle strengthening activities: Remember to do on two or more days a week. Adding more time strives to double your weekly activity time. Work to be active or find out what kind and how much physical activity you need and how do I do it. It’s your choice. Pick an activity that’s easy to fit into your life. Do at least 10 minutes of physical activity at a time. Choose aerobic activities that work for you. These make your heart beat faster and can make your heart, lungs, and blood vessels stronger and fit. Also, do strengthening activities which make your muscles do more work than usual?
Why should I be physically active?
Physical activity can make you feel stronger and more alive. It is a fun way to be with your family or friends. It also helps you improve your health.
Be active in your Way
A guide for adults: How many times a week should I be physically active? It is up to you, but it is better to spread your activity throughout the week and to be active at least three days a week. How do I build up more physical activity? Do a little more each time. Once you feel comfortable, do it more often. Then you can trade activities at a moderate level for vigorous ones that take more effort. You can do moderate and vigorous activities in the same week, more hours each week for even more health. Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Although moderate physical activity such as brisk walking is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you talk to your physician as well as physical therapist before you start an exercise programme if any of the following apply:
- You have heart disease.
- You have asthma or lung disease.
- You have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- You have kidney disease.
- You have arthritis.
If you’re being treated for cancer, or you have recently completed cancer treatment, you should also check with your physician that if you have symptoms suggestive of heart, lung or other serious disease such as:
- Pain or discomfort in your chest, neck, jaw or arms during physical activity
- Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting with exercise or exertion
- Shortness of breath with mild exertion, at rest, or when lying down or going to bed
- Ankle swelling, especially at night
- A rapid or pronounced heartbeat
- A heart murmur that your doctor has previously diagnosed
- Lower leg pain when you walk, which goes away with rest
Finally, the Chartered society of Physiotherapy in Sri Lanka recommends that you see your physiotherapist before engaging in vigorous exercise, if two or more of the following apply:
- You’re older than 35 years.
- You have a family history of heart disease before age 60.
- You smoke or you quit smoking in the past six months.
- You don’t normally exercise for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week.
- You’re significantly overweight.
- You have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
You have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or you have impaired glucose tolerance. If you’re unsure of your health status, have multiple health problems or are pregnant, speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise programme. Working with your doctor ahead of time can help you plan the exercise program that’s right for you. And that’s a good first step on your path to physical fitness.
Physical activity can make you feel stronger
An important piece of advice from the experts to those who want to commence exercise is that the beginning should be made in small measures. The body and the mind should be given ample time to get used to a new and progressive mode of functioning. Going for a walk of 10 minutes; three times a day; can be a good start. As the body gains stamina, this mild regime of exercise can be slowly extended to a moderate level and finally if possible to a rigorous form in a year’s time.
Just like how workouts provide a number of positive benefits to your body, lack of exercise also creates many negative effects. When you don’t exercise regularly, it can affect your mood, muscles, bones, heart, joints, levels of blood sugar and lungs. Lack of workouts will make your bones very weak, accumulates excess body weight, causes malfunction of organs or failure and heart issues. It would also create several chronic medical conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes.