Getting no exercise — how bad is it?

 

Last updated 12/15/2021 at Noon



Everybody reading this knows that smoking and diabetes are devastating to longevity. Collectively, along with their comorbidities, smoking and diabetes cost our health care system over $200 billion per year.

There is a lifestyle choice that up to half of readers are making every day, which has a bigger effect on mortality than either of the above. It’s not diet-related; it’s not about toxic chemicals; it’s not about diseases or viruses. It’s about physical fitness. Regardless of body fat, regardless of muscle size, the function of cardiovascular health and fitness can drastically change a person’s well-being — more than smoking, or developing diabetes from lifestyle.

A sedentary life carries a huge risk of premature death — a risk higher than smoking, hypertension, and diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The lead author of this enlightening research, Dr. Wael Jaber, explained it another way: “If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking.”

A person who does little to no deliberate exercise has more risk of premature death then those who are smoking and developing diabetes. This may be shocking to the 77 percent of Americans who the CDC reports aren’t getting a

recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise.

There is no aspect of one’s being that cannot benefit from exercise — from the wonders of consciousness, to the rigidity of the skeletal system. It’s not all about brawn. Health outcomes transcend mere body weight. In fact, a study analyzing hundreds of other studies showed that people who exercised while still being overweight lowered their heart disease and premature death risk far more with exercise than those who just lost weight by dieting.

What is exercise? It seems obvious to many, but look beyond the superficial and see the possibilities. It can be done anywhere, anytime. Astronauts know that they need to exercise daily— and do so in outer space. Take a walk, play fetch with the dog, walk the stairs. Upload free videos on Youtube, put music on and dance, play with other kids in the

neighborhood.

How much exercise is the right dose? It’s common to prescribe 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise.

Moderate exercise isn’t doing the dishes and organizing the garage.

It’s deliberate, it’s effortful, and it’s consistent movement.

It gets the heart and lungs working much harder than “light” activity.

It also should be recommended to get a few sessions of strength training every couple of days.

Such training specifically challenges the ability of one’s muscles to perform a movement against a resistance.

Strength training keeps you balanced, enhances ability to move about, to do activity, and to function generally.

Degradation of strength brings on limitations in the older population more than anything else.

If you want to maximize lifespan, exercise is possibly the most important key to doing so.

It’s important to envision exercise relative to your current state. An avid cyclist wouldn’t get much out of a 20-minute walk, yet there are people who benefit tremendously. Start small and look to build. Consistency is your closest ally. Make it a habit and try to do something to improve each time. Distractions, like phone calls, music, and podcasts can help you get through the time.

Remember, it’s a journey that begins with just one step!

 

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