7 Crazy Reasons Why Inactivity is Killing You ...

It might not be as talked about as smoking or alcohol, but it’s true – your inactivity is killing you. Recent studies have focused on how having lower than recommended activity levels affects long-term health, and the news isn’t good – a huge percentage of the public don’t move enough, and it’s thought inactivity could be as dangerous as smoking a packet of cigarettes a day. Wow. Here’s how your inactivity is killing you…

1. It’s a Pandemic…

The first thing is to remember that this is new research, and as such, most Governments and health organizations haven’t had time to respond! It’s likely that big awareness campaigns will be launched, and it’s completely possible to change your activity levels. That said, medical journal The Lancet recorded that inactivity resulted in 5.3m deaths worldwide last year – the same number as smoking. So if you are worried that inactivity is killing you, treat it as you would a dangerous smoking habit. Quickly, efficiently and with help if you need it.

2. How Much is Enough…

Defining physical inactivity is difficult, as it’s a very vague term. In order to do “enough” physical activity, you need to raise your heartbeat for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. It could be anything from a brisk walk to karate or trampolining, as long as your heart rate gets up! The thirty minutes also doesn’t have to be consecutive. Unfortunately, 87% of respondents to a recent Government survey thought just one 30-minute exercise session was enough to stay healthy.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Weight…

Obesity is caused by inactivity. That sounds really obvious, but it’s very easy to blame a whole variety of causes, from junk food to medication! If you don’t burn off the same calories that you consume, you gain weight. It’s easy to gain a pound or two over Christmas or vacations, but you should aim to lose it again quickly, before it turns into an extra stone, and another, and another… You don’t need me to tell you how dangerous being overweight is, and although it’s not easy to lose weight, we should all aim to stay on top of it to prevent having a huge amount to lose.

4. Diabetes Drama…

It’s often put down to being caused by overeating, but type two diabetes can also be caused simply by not moving enough. For women, a waist measurement of over 31.5 inches or 80cm is considered an increased risk of diabetes, and for men it’s 35 inches (90cm). If you are concerned, or have noticed symptoms of diabetes including an increased thirst, go to your GP for testing.

5. TV Terrors…

Love relaxing in front of the TV? You aren’t the only one. We are a world of TV lovers, with everything from soaps to wildlife documentaries, music channels to international news – but it might not be doing us much good. An Australian study that followed 8,800 adults for six years found that people who watched TV for more than four hours a day were 80% more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than those who watched two hours or less. For each additional hour on top of the four, the chance of dying rose by 11%. If you can’t give up your favorite programs, get active while you watch them.

6. Feeling the Blues…

Harvard University found a direct correlation between watching TV and being diagnosed with depression – and the study results fit in perfectly with the idea that being inactive has a huge negative effect on mental health. Active women who exercise on a regular basis are 20% less likely to suffer from depression – and the release of endorphins on a regular basis will give you a definite good feeling. What bigger incentive is there to jump on the treadmill or go for a bike ride?

7. Staying Seated…

Still not convinced to jump up and pack in that exercise? The latest research from the World Health Organization is probably the clearest, scariest proof that inactivity is killing you (and us). Physical inactivity is thought to be the main cause of 21 – 25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and 30% of ischaemic heart disease. They didn’t just analyse planned exercise, either – just doing housework, recreational activities outside and playing with children count.

There’s no greater motivation to get moving than knowing your inactivity is killing you – and with the weather getting warmer, it’s also a great time to try new exercises. If you hate the gym, try going for a horse ride, a family hike or rock climbing instead, or dig out your old tennis kit. Split your thirty minutes a day into ten or five minute bursts, and make yourself a star chart to tick them off. You’ll soon be wondering what you did before. Got a tip for increasing your activity levels? I’d love to hear it!