With the holidays approaching and daily schedules becoming more and more busy, many people may discontinue their usual exercise routines. But before you give up on this important healthy habit, consider the fact that physical activity is actually linked with a longer life. Did you know that research has shown that the more time a person spends being inactive, the higher their risk is for premature death? That’s right- inactivity is linked with an earlier death! Many chronic diseases that Americans experience including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and even some cancers, may be alleviated or prevented by regular physical activity. An inverse correlation exists between amount of aerobic activity and risk of premature death such that the more time a person spends in aerobic activity, the lower his or her risk is for premature death. Alternatively, the more time a person spends sitting or being inactive, the higher his or her risk is for chronic diseases, mental health problems, and premature death.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presented the updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2008. These guidelines state that adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity per week for substantial health benefits. However, accumulating more activity leads to greater health benefits. Unfortunately, over half of the American population fails to meet these recommendations, and the amount of physical activity people accumulate tends to decrease around the holiday season.

To ensure you reach these physical activity guidelines and to combat the negative effects of inactivity, try to accumulate at least 10,000 steps per day or incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity several days per week. Better yet, do both! Try getting to the gym several days per week and try to incorporate both strength-building and aerobic activities. Think you don’t have time to fit some activity in this holiday season? Physical activity can be as simple as vacuuming the floors, walking around a shopping center, or taking your dog for a walk. Don’t let inactivity take a toll on your health! Find an activity you enjoy and stick to it throughout the year for a longer, healthier life!

 

Reference:

Schoenborn, C. A., & Stommel, M. (2011). Adherence to the 2008 adult physical activity guidelines and mortality risk. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40(5), 514-521. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2010.12.029

Tremblay, M. S., Healy, G. N., Owen, N., Colley, R. C., & Saunders. T. J. (2010). Physiological and health implications of a sedentary lifestyle. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 35(6), 725-740. doi:10.1139/H10-079

Tucker J. M., Welk, G. J., & Beyler, N. K. (2011). Physical activity in U.S. adults: Compliance with the physical activity guidelines for americans. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40(4), 454-461. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2010.12.016

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). 2008 physical activity guidelines for americans.

Warburton, D. E. R., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. D. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: The evidence. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 174(6), 801-809. doi:10.1503/cmaj.051351

Zhao, G., Li, C., Ford, E. S., Fulton, J. E., Carlson, S. A., Okoro, C. A., et al. (2014; 2013). Leisure-time aerobic physical activity, muscle-strengthening activity and mortality risks among US adults: The NHANES linked mortality study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(3), 244-244. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092731