The High Cost of Inactivity

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, people are struggling to get back to a healthy, active lifestyle. Gyms and fitness centers have been closed and many people are still working from home. Unfortunately, inactivity comes with a high price.

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and bone density. An overall loss in muscle strength leads to poor posture and tightened joints. There’s also a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.

Nearly 30% of Americans are inactive. That is nearly 100 million people. Do people know being inactive can kill you years sooner?

Not exercising can actually lead to premature death. The World Health Organization reports people who are not sufficiently active have a 20% to 30% greater risk of premature death. Physical activity is a leading risk factor for an increase in global mortality.

The direct costs of lack of physical activity are approximately 24 billion dollars or 2.4% of the U.S. health care expenditures a year. (Colditz GA. Economic costs of obesity and inactivity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Nov;31(11 Suppl):S663-7.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has put another challenge in front of people. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says adults with excess weight are at even greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Obesity increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Obesity triples the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection. From the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 to November 2020 more than 900,000 adults were hospitalized due to COVID-19. Nearly 270,000, or 30%, of these hospitalizations were attributed to obesity.

Exercise is an essential part of maintaining a solid immune system. The better your immune system the more resistant you are to viruses like COVID-19. If you do catch the virus your treatment is greatly helped by being fit and healthy.

At a minimum, adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week.  That is 2 ½ hours of moderate activity a week. A schedule of a half hour per day 5 days a week would satisfy the requirement.

There are more than 30,000 gyms and fitness centers in the United States. Most are open again and will stay open if the pandemic allows. In the United States, there are approximately 340,000 certified personal trainers working professionally. If you can hire a trainer, it can help you get started and begin a journey to a healthier lifestyle.

If you can’t afford gyms and trainers, go walk.  Walking is one of the best exercises and it costs you nothing. You can easily walk 60 minutes a day and stay physically active.

The great Arthur Ashe, Jr. once said, “”Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

It’s never too late to get started.