The pandemic has caused many of us to engage in a whole lot of physical inactivity. It’s no fault of our own, really, but the fact is that many people have stopped getting a lot of exercise, and it’s about time we talked about it.
It’s difficult to get out and active when there’s no gym and you’re worried about physical contact with other people, but we can at least find out the risks of continuing to live this way when things open back up.
We’re going to talk a little bit about the risks of living a sedentary lifestyle in this article, giving you a look at how you might be able to spark up the activity and avoid those risks.
Let’s get started:
The Risks of Physical Activity
Before we talk about any of the specifics, let’s take a look at this idea in general terms.
The human body has evolved in a way that encourages the healthy use of all of its parts. If we have something on our body, odds are that we’re supposed to be using it, and that use is what contributes to the maintenance and health of that part.
That goes for everything from our cardiovascular system to the muscles on the tips of our toes.
In a natural environment, we would be using our bodies to nearly their full potential, or at least we’d be active enough to keep things fluid and in use for the most part. When we don’t use something, it sends the signal to the body that we no longer need it.
Take atrophy, for example. When someone can’t use a muscle on their body for an extended period of time, they start to lose muscle. After a period of enough time, that atrophy might be extremely difficult to come back from.
If we’re not using something, our body thinks, why keep it around to take up energy? Outside of muscles, though, we can’t really afford to get rid of anything without failing and dying.
So, instead of losing muscle, things like our hearts, veins, minds, and other internal organs all start to experience disease and failure.
The scariest fact to think about is that those who are sedentary for long periods of time are far more likely to die prematurely than those who aren’t.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a boozehound, you smoke cigarettes, and you eat unhealthy foods, you’re still going to be better off if you get some exercise. Even if you live an otherwise healthy life, physical inactivity will contribute to a shorter lifespan for you.
What’s more, is that you won’t just pass away out of the blue. Physical inactivity will lead your body to be in worse condition than it otherwise would be, your internal organs will start to have complications like heart disease, general failure, and more.
Those things will lead to the onset of frequent doctor’s visits, general pain, and discomfort as you settle into old age. Those things are just not pleasant, they’re costly, and they are entirely avoidable. For example, exercise is a great way to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
Not to mention the effects that physical inactivity can have on your mind.
Mental Health Decline
It’s a well-known fact that physical activity has a positive influence on mental health, even if the individual experiences some variety of chronic mental illness.
Exercise produces dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, all of which contribute to the feeling of happiness. Not to mention that there’s a measure of satisfaction in completing a workout that helps contribute to more positive self-esteem and the onset of good feelings about one’s self.
The more insidious effects of inactivity come down the line, though. Aside from feeling low, a person who gets no activity is more likely to develop memory loss, Alzheimer’s, unstable mood, and much more.
It’s almost as if exercising on a regular basis is the way to keep our bodies and mind lubricated as if we were going to a mechanic to get an oil change or tune up. Activity is the water and sunshine to our plant, and it allows up to stay fresh and remain in the game throughout our golden years.
How to Start Getting Active
Now, all of the information above doesn’t make it any easier to start getting regular exercise and continuing to do so throughout the rest of your life.
The nice thing is that starting is the hardest part. Once you get up and get out and start to feel those endorphins pumping, you’ll remember how great it feels to be active and feel motivated to get back out there.
Additionally, you don’t have to go to the gym or even break a sweat to technically be “getting active.” What matters is that you’re moving your muscles and increasing your heart rate for an extended period of time.
Generally, you want to be at an increased heart rate for around 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. That’s somewhere around two-and-a-half hours of general activity each week.
Now, before that scares you too badly, note that going for a light walk around your neighborhood might take around a half-hour. Walking around your neighborhood in the morning at whatever pace you like constitutes getting active.
Alternatively, you might like to try riding your bike or taking a class that allows for light exercise. The point is that you’re not sitting and doing nothing. The particulars of this don’t have to be too important at all.
Sure, it’s best to be exercising in a vigorous and healthy way, but it isn’t as if taking it easy is going to hurt you. The only thing that will hurt you is if you’re just laying around and feeling lethargic for days or weeks at a time.
Want to Learn More about Staying Fit?
Staying mentally and physically well can be a challenge, but there are lots of resources out there to help you on your way toward avoiding physical inactivity. We’re here to assist you in that department.
Explore our site for a whole lot more tips on health and wellness.