“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” – Carol Welch

dangers of being sedentaryToo many people approach fitness sporadically or not at all. As humans, we have a strange capacity for convincing ourselves of things that are not at all true, such as that we are physically fit, but maybe should exercise a bit more.

Unfortunately, the truth is more likely that we are far from being physically fit and we really don’t exercise at all.

Physical inactivity, or being sedentary, has effects far beyond merely being “out of shape” and it is actually deadly.

Physical Inactivity is Depressing. Literally.

The Canadian website LifeSpanFitness.com notes the following:

“Physical inactivity may contribute to anxiety and depression. Physical inactivity has been shown to be a risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases. People who engage in more physical activity are less likely to develop coronary heart disease. People who are more active are less likely to be overweight or obese.”

In countries like the United States, physical inactivity combined with less-than-healthy eating habits, has contributed to an epidemic of obesity. It is quite common for adults to feel that they are “a little overweight”, but the statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of US adults have obesity.

Being overweight or obese are defined by what is known as your body mass index (BMI). This which is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. The CDC breaks these measurements into ranges:

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the normal.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

The range of besity is often subdivided into the following categories:

  • Class 1: BMI of 30 to < 35
  • Class 2: BMI of 35 to < 40
  • Class 3: BMI of 40 or higher.

Keep in mind that your BMI is not a perfect measurement as it does not distinguish lean mass from fat mass, nor does it take into account racial or ethnic differences.

Class 3 obesity is sometimes categorized as “extreme” or “severe” obesity, or what was once called “morbid obesity.” While this upper extreme is not common in the U.S., the fact is that many people who feel they might simply be “a bit overweight” are, in fact, Class 1 obese.

And this condition, combined with a largely sedentary lifestyle, can be deadly. Health conditions linked to or aggravated by obesity include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death.

Random Physical Activity Can Be Dangerous, Too

On of the most common causes of physical injuries is the tendency to “over do it” on a weekend at the park, or some similar activity. We sit all week, week after week, then come home and sit on the couch, night after night. But one day we go out with the kids or some friends and play a few games of basketball or some other strenuous activity.

And, if we’re lucky, we find that we are simply winded, easily worn out, and wake up the next day feeling achy all over.

But, too often, it’s this random physical exertion that leads to an injury instead. And that often leads to chronic pain if left untreated. And, if you are physically inactive 95 percent of the time, that small percentage of intense physical activity or exercise can be dangerous.

In other words, most of us would be better off working up to it gradually and consistently.

An article in Time magazine noted,

“Sedentary behavior has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. But a new study provides encouragement that some physical activity, including relatively simple ways to improve muscle strength, may be enough to overcome some of the unhealthy effects of sitting too much.”

The problem for many people is that they realize that they are far too inactive and that their health is suffering, so they decide to start exercising. And they either do too much, too soon, and hurt themselves, or they do too little, to infrequently, and give up. Neither approach is effective nor healthy.

But movement – exercise – is absolutely essential for reversing the deadly effects of physical inactivity.

As WebMD points out,

“You need to get — and keep — moving if you want to cash in on the benefits. This doesn’t necessarily mean following a strict, time-consuming regimen at the gym — although that can certainly reap benefits. The truth is you can get rewards from many different types and levels of exercise.

‘Any little increment of physical activity is going to be a great boost to weight loss and feeling better,’ says Rita Redberg, MSc, chairwoman of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Advisory Board for the Choose to Move program.”

Exercise and physical activity options can include walking, hiking, dancing, and biking. For those that are extremely sedentary, mowing the lawn or even doing household chores is a great start. The important thing is to make it a habit. The real key to benefiting from exercise and physical activity is frequency and consistency.

A common question is how much exercise should you do? The AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, on most days of the week for improved heart health. And “moderate-intensity” is defined as activities that increase your heart rate at 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.

Johns Hopkins cardiologist Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S. , associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease , give this advice in an article on the Johns Hopkins website,

“Even if you have to be sitting in front of the computer all day, you can break up the time. You don’t have to replace sitting with time at the gym. There’s benefit to light activity during the day. For every 20 minutes of sitting, try to stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes.

I recommend everybody track their steps, with a fitness tracker, your phone or a simple pedometer. We usually recommend a target of 10,000 steps a day. But if you’re very sedentary, any improvement will be beneficial. If you only get 2,000 steps a day, try to aim for 4,000.

Take baby steps. It doesn’t have to be vigorous. Just stand up and move your muscles.”

Get Active and Stay Pain-Free With Pain and Performance Solutions

At your first appointment here at Pain and Performance Solutions, we will learn all we can about your present pain and condition, along with any history of discomfort, as well as your current activity – or lack of it.

Treating and relieving pain starts once we understand where and how your pain started.

A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.

We will conduct a full examination to help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to put you on your road to recovery. Because our bodies will compensate for pain to allow us to function during our day, the pain can shift around and lead to other forms of pain.

Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly, and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.

You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.