How much time do you spend exercising and engaging in physical activity during a typical week? When you’re busy juggling a job, caring for your family, maintaining personal relationships, and performing the countless other tasks associated with day-to-day living, it’s difficult to set aside time to exercise. But when you fail to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity, you place yourself at risk for disease and illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise and two days of strength-training workouts per week for adults. Unfortunately, though, most Americans fall well short of these guidelines. According to a recent report published by the CDC, only 20.8% of Americans meet the recommendations for both aerobic and strength training exercise.
A study published in the January 2015 Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that leading a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 91%.
Diabetes is a serious problem here in the United States, with approximately 9.3% of the population suffering from disease (diagnosed and undiagnosed). One of the most influential risk factors of this all-too-common disease is lack of physical activity. When you don’t exercise, the cells in your body lose their sensitivity to insulin. And being that insulin controls sugar blood sugar levels, this increases the risk of diabetes.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women, taking the lives of more than half a million Americans a year. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), however, individuals can reduce their risk of developing heart disease by 30-40% and stroke by 25% by staying active. Assuming those numbers are correct, exercising can save hundreds of thousands of lives per year. But a lower risk of heart disease is just one of the many benefits of staying physically active.
Still not convinced that leading a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health? The American Cancer Institute (ACI) says increasing either the “intensity, duration, or frequency” of exercise can reduce a person’s risk of developing colon cancer by 30-40%. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, attesting to the importance of staying active.
A disturbing new report published in The Lancet finds nearly one in 10 deaths are attributed to lack of physical activity. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School in Boston analyzed global death data from 2008, paying close attention to the correlation between exercise (or lack thereof) and disease. They concluded that failure to exercise for just 150 minutes per week resulted in 6% of all heart disease cases, 7% of type 2 diabetes cases, 10% of breast cancer cases, and 10% of colon cancer cancers.
So, what steps can you take to stay active and reduce your risk of these health problems? Check out the following tips listed below:
- Spend more time cleaning your home.
- Instead of sitting on the couch, perform light aerobic exercises while watching TV.
- Mow your own grass and do your own lawn work instead of paying someone else to do it.
- Wear a fitness tracking device to measure your daily physical activity.
- Ask a friend to exercise with you. Several studies have found that people exercise for longer and more vigorously in the presence of a partner.
- Park in the back of the parking lot. Walking longer distances to and from your car is the perfect way to increase your physical activity levels.
- Conduct “walking” meetings in which you and your business colleagues meet while walking instead of sitting at a conference table.
- Go shopping at the mall.
- Participate in 5K runs. At just over 3.1 miles, it’s a great way to build endurance while strengthen your heart and lungs.