A basic law of physics states, “A body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest.” Our modern conveniences have altered human behavior in more ways than anyone could have predicted. While convenience and comfort have certainly increased, the toll on human health is far worse than many realise. A sedentary lifestyle is crippling. As our lives become more convenient, they also become dangerously sedentary. Obesity is not the only problem that might occur from inactivity. A multitude of health complications also occurs when our muscles are not used.
Muscle Mass: Use it or Lose It
If you do not use a muscle, it will atrophy, or waste away. If you exercise, you develop muscle tissues and maintain your weight. If you stop exercising and continue to indulge in a fast food diet, the muscles will atrophy and your body will begin to store the excess calories as fat.
As a muscle, your heart also requires activity in the form of increased demand for blood. If you run around the block or use vibration equipment, your circulation will increase. Failing to take care of your heart, by living a sedentary life, can lead to coronary artery disease, stroke, and hypertension.
Again, movement and activity are the keys. Sitting still can literally kill you if you do it too much or for too long. Inactivity increases your body mass, or the ratio of fat to muscle within your body. Even simple, regular movement and muscle stimulation can provide your heart and other muscles with much needed activity.
Other Health Risks of a Sedentary Life
Inactivity can lead to breast cancer, colon cancer, osteoporosis, and Type 2 diabetes, among many other illnesses. World Health Organization (WHO) statistics claim sedentary living will cause 17 million deaths due to cardiovascular disease and that diabetes deaths will increase 50% in 10 years unless changes are made. This can be avoided with whole body vibration and a healthy diet.
Current WHO projections tell us that one out of every three human beings is overweight and that one out of every ten is obese. These conditions can lead to serious health risks and death. Luckily, being obese or overweight is preventable and treatable, as are atrophied muscles.
Regular exercise will help to restore your good health. Basic changes in eating habits, such as drinking more water and eliminating fats, sugars, and highly processed foods will bring measurable results. In addition to dietary changes, individuals must participate in some kind of moderately intense physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days.
Before getting into how much physical activity adults need to stay healthy, let’s first discuss what types of activities count. Basically, activities are broken down into two categories: aerobic and muscle strengthening.
Activities that work the major muscle groups, such as legs, arms, chest, back, shoulders and arms count under this type of physical activity. This includes:
• Lifting weights using dumbbells, barbells or weight-simulating machines
• Using resistance bands
• Performing bodyweight exercises without any additional weight
• Certain types of gardening
Besides the type of activity, two other considerations are:
• Time – how long you exercise
• Intensity – how hard you push your body
Usually the more intense the activity, the shorter amount of time it can be performed until failure. Intensity is broken down into moderate and vigorous. Good examples between two types of intensities are walking (moderate) verses jogging (vigorous) or tennis doubles (moderate) verses singles (vigorous).
In America, both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American Heart Association (AHA) recommend getting at a minimum 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous, along with two or more days per week of muscle-strengthening exercises that target all the major muscle groups. Do one set of 12 to 15 repetitions per set of each muscle group exercise. Just make sure the muscle-strengthening days are not back to back as muscles need at least a day in-between to recover.
For those who have not exercised in a while, see your Doctor first before starting any exercise program. Second, start out slowly. You’ll know when you are exercising at the proper rate when you can carry on a conversation while exercising.
Gradually work up to the recommended minimum amount of activity time per week – 30 minutes per day, five days per week. Even three 10-minute sessions per day provide the same, if not more, health benefits than one 30-minute session.
The CDC and AHA also note that greater health benefits can be gained by bumping the aerobic time up to 300 minutes per week along with the same amount of strength training. The bottom lines are doing any physical activity is better than nothing and it is never too late to start.
Start slow. Set milestones along the way that once accomplished help gradually work you up to the recommended amount of weekly activity.