(NaturalHealth365) Researchers have long linked sedentary lifestyles with serious health consequences, yet according to the CDC, only half of adults within the United States are getting enough physical activity. Not getting enough exercise is costly, with more than 117 billion dollars in annual health care costs associated with failure to get enough physical activity.
A recent study, which was presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ECS) Congress 2019, discovered that long-term physical inactivity over at least 20 years results in twice the risk of premature death compared with physically active people. With the CDC estimating that getting enough exercise can prevent 10% of premature deaths, Americans need to start adding more activity to their daily life.
Long-term inactivity is dangerous, but short periods without physical activity are problematic, too
Researchers used the information provided by the HUNT study, which included recruiting Norwegian residents 20 years of age or older. It then checked up on regular physical activity over three distinct periods.
At every follow-up, participants were asked about the duration and frequency of physical activity and leisure time. This study used this information, along with a reference group of individuals reporting a high amount of exercise during those periods, to come up with the comparison.
When the high exercise group was compared to those with lower activity levels, they discovered that individuals who got small amounts of physical activity over the years had twice the risk of dying from all causes, as well as nearly a threefold higher risk of premature death due to heart disease.
But it’s not just long-term inactivity that’s so dangerous. Previous studies have discovered that only 14 days without enough physical activity is enough to increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
One study showed that after 14 days of inactivity, cardio fitness declines rapidly, and body composition changes, including fat gain and muscle loss. This finding is significant because increased abdominal fat is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Small changes to improve overall health and avoid premature death
While both short-term and long-term inactivity increases the risk of disease and premature death, even small changes are enough to improve overall health. While the current recommendation for physical activity is 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly, even a small amount of physical activity can offer benefits for individuals who are currently inactive.
The recent study also discovered that even small changes can improve health, so engaging in exercise that improves fitness can help prevent premature death, reduce the risk of disease, and keep cognitive function and organ function in good shape.
Regular exercise offers many other health benefits, too, such as stronger muscles, weight control, improved sleep, and improved mood. However, it’s always essential to check with a physician before starting a new exercise routine, particularly if you have any health issues.