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5 Health Risks Associated with an Inactive Lifestyle

Due to the current pandemic we are all struggling with staying active. However, even during normal times there are many reasons why people live an inactive or sedentary lifestyle. For some, living with chronic pain like lower back pain makes it challenging to exercise. Others have busy days, a variety of responsibilities, and a desk job. Whether you have not been exercising due to your schedule or you have a medical condition, you should still consider getting back on track with your workouts. 

Woman holding her lower back

As I write this article we are in month three of the worldwide lockdown due to the new Coronavirus pandemic and it’s more important than ever to stay healthy. As certified personal trainers we have been hosting an online exercise class for our friends and family. It’s only 30 minutes a day but it’s really helped us all stay physically and mentally fit. The key is to maintain this new habit when we return to our regular lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is necessary to stay healthy. If you have any questions about your health, the specific amount of activity you need, or the workouts that are right for your condition, be sure to consult with your doctor. In the meantime, review the risks of staying inactive, which can impact your mental and physical health. 

1. Chronic Health Problems

Failing to exercise can contribute to the development of a chronic medical condition. In fact, the World Health Organization warns that physical inactivity is a leading cause of disease and disability around the globe. Some of the most common health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. If you do not get enough exercise, it is even possible to develop a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. 

To keep yourself in optimal health, try exercising for 30 minutes per day on five days per week. Set aside two days for relaxation and rest. This time off will also help to restore your muscles and ligaments. If you are not working out at all, talk to a doctor or a licensed physical therapist before beginning a new exercise plan. 

Once you get the go-ahead, it is important to start slowly. Try walking at a moderate pace or engaging in a beginner’s yoga session. If necessary, you can break your workout time into a few different sessions. Try walking for 10 minutes at a time or split up the 30 minutes for various activities, such as swimming laps and stretching. 

2. Obesity & Weight Issues

To maintain a healthy weight, you must eat well and stay active. If you do not exercise, the calories you consume when you eat can turn into extra pounds. Being overweight or experiencing adult obesity can lead to a variety of issues, including an increased risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Weight problems are also associated with reduced quality of life and poorer mental health. 

Exercising regularly will help you to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Using an adult BMI calculator can help you to find your target weight. Once you know the range you should remain in to enjoy optimal health, you can monitor your progress. Incorporating a combination of cardio routines and strength exercises into your schedule to help yourself build strong, lean muscle and control the balance between your calorie output and intake. 

Some of the most popular cardiovascular exercises include walking, swimming, and running. Try improving your strength at home with the help of bodyweight exercises, free weights, and kettlebells. 

three people jogging along a riverside

3. Increased Risk of Osteoporosis

One of the lesser known risks associated with an inactive lifestyle is developing bone problems. Osteoporosis, a chronic health condition characterized by thinning bones, is linked with a lack of exercise. According to WebMD, a woman’s risk of getting osteoporosis can start as early as childhood.

Kids and teens who exercise on a regular basis are less likely to develop thinning bones. If you get a healthy amount of physical activity in your adult years, you will also lessen your chances of having bone problems. When you combine routine workouts with getting enough calcium and vitamin D, you can keep your bones strong and healthy. This will help you to avoid chronic pain and bone fractures, which can make you more sedentary in the long run. 

4. Mental Health Problems

Being physically inactive can lead to mental health problems, including increased feelings of depression or anxiety. It can also make you feel more irritable or less confident in yourself. The good news is that working out can quickly help to enhance your mood and relieve symptoms of depression. In fact, research shows that more exercise is linked with a lower depression risk. When you commit yourself to your cardio and strength routines, you also help to avoid depressive episodes in the future. 

Why does exercise help combat anxious feelings and mood disorders? Research on the mental health benefits of exercise show that it promotes positive changes in the brain, including an enhanced sense of calm and well-being. It can also help to promote better sleep and healthy neural growth. To make the most of your workouts, find an activity that is both stress-relieving and healthy for your body. Pilates, walking, and yoga are all relaxing yet effective ways to get yourself moving. Other ideas include Tai Chi, gardening, and dancing. 

Woman in a yoga pose outsde at sunset

5. Chronic Aches & Pains

If you have lower back pain, resting your body can give you temporary relief. However, staying sedentary will only contribute to your pain in the future. Large population studies published by the National Institute of Health show that physically active individuals are less likely to develop chronic pain. Exercise is also an effective treatment for decreasing pain and improving function for people with a variety of pain-related conditions. 

Some people already see a doctor for their lower back problems. If you are currently seeking treatment for a condition, talk with your doctor about the best exercises for your needs. Those who are searching for a solution at home can combine their weekly workout routines with effective remedies for relieving aches and tension.

Some of the most popular choices include stretching, heat therapy, and laser therapy for back pain. Each of these therapies can even be combined into a wellness regimen to improve your symptoms and help you stay active.  

Staying Healthy with an Active Lifestyle 

If your doctor says it is okay to exercise, there is no reason why you cannot benefit from a healthy lifestyle. Find an activity you like or a set of hobbies that interest you, and then aim to do them for a total of 150 minutes per week. Working out in the great outdoors can also be fun and rewarding. Hiking, cycling, and swimming can all be done outside, which allows you to get plenty of oxygen and vitamin D. Visiting different locations to get active can also help to keep things fun and exciting and there are plenty of ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling.

When you keep a positive attitude and stay committed to living an active lifestyle, you will enjoy better physical and mental health. In the meantime, take care of your mind and body. Plenty of rest, hydration, and self-care activities will help you to enjoy whole-body wellness. This simple plan can also help you to enjoy a better quality of life.

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