Mom of two Mischievous Monkeys: Inactivity is the new smoking???

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inactivity is the new smoking???

I think that the majority of people likely have exercise on their mind, at least once in a while. Thinking about what is the right type of exercise, are we doing enough, etc.
image photo : Mouse on Exercise Wheel
And for anyone that isn't (not pointing any fingers) it appears that we should be. According to a study published in the Medical Journal, Lancet, Physical inactivity could be the new “smoking” in terms of health related effects.

It was found that inactivity was responsible for 5.3 million out of 57 million deaths throughout the world in 2008, and it caused about one in 10 deaths globally, which is comparable to the effects of smoking. By comparison, about 5.1 million die annually because of smoking, as an accompanying comment article points out.

In the first article, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School estimated that a failure to spend at least 150 minutes per week doing moderate physical activity, such as briskly walking for 30 minutes, contributed to an average of 6 percent to 10 percent of several diseases worldwide, including type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer and coronary heart disease.
"In the USA, the number of insufficiently active people is 50 percent greater than the number of obese people," said Flores. "That means that the opportunity to lessen risk for more people to a whole host of health problems is greater if we focus our attention on getting more people active instead of just focusing on obesity. Reducing inactivity is the single most promising opportunity to improve the health of the population at large."
Modern conveniences, including cars and computers, have contributed to the influx of physical inactivity in recent decades. Social isolation has also contributed to the shift to an inactive society.
I can identify with this one, as we have only owned a vehicle for a couple years now I walk a lot less for errands even though there is a little strip mall about a 10 minute walk from our house.

Undoubtedly, there will be some people who will question equating smoking with inactivity. While smoking and inactivity kill a similar number of people, smoking rates are much lower than the number of inactive people, making smoking more risky to the individual.

There were studies and comments in the Lancet series that proposed government and personal action such as building more parks , promoting bike commutes and providing financial incentives, like lower insurance premiums to encourage exercise ,as well as using cellphone apps and other technologies to nudge people toward more movement.

Personally, I think that there are lots of parks already (at least where I am). Physical activity is promoted but maybe the message on the importance of it is not highlighted enough in relation to this most recent news.

At a recent visit my doctor stressed the importance of regular physical activity, and doing at least 1/2 hour of activity a day. What they did not mention was that not being active could lead to death, in an otherwise healthy person who does not smoke or is not overweight.

Thankfully, inactivity is easier for most of us to combat than a nicotine addiction or obesity. I know that I have good intentions to go for walks on my coffee breaks and the majority of times don’t. Using my two coffee breaks a day would get my 30 minutes in a day. And when I can’t take that break or don’t want to leave the office, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or take a break and walk some flights of stairs for exercise.

Now I would like to know, what do you do to stay active? What do you wish you did more of to stay active?

1 comment :

  1. I like to dance and find creative ways to exercise since I can't afford the gym.