We all know smoking is bad for health. Anyone who puts a cigarette in their mouth may realize that it is harmful to their body. However, the same idea may not pass through the minds of those who let themselves throw on the sofa whenever they got the chance.
Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to negative consequences for the body similar to those of smoking.
The problem becomes more worrisome in times of pandemic, when many people are staying home for longer than they would like.
Without having to travel to work, with gyms closed or working under restrictions, some spent their days between the chair in front of the computer and the sofa or mattress (with a technical stop in the kitchen).
Long breaks may seem like, but they’re not harmful.
“We know that inactivity increases the risk of many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer,” Harvard University professor Aimin Lee told the BBC. A study of physical inactivity Published in the scientific journal The Lancet.
He said: “Given that it is a common risk factor in many of the chronic diseases that afflict us, the risk of premature death for those who do not exercise in general can be compared to the risks of smoking.”
She is not the only scientist to argue that a sedentary lifestyle should be considered as harmful to health as smoking.
A 2018 study conducted in the United States by the prestigious Cleveland Clinic found that inactivity can affect life expectancy even more than smoking.
Researchers found that those who are in better shape enjoy a longer, healthier life.
Conversely, those with lower incomes had higher levels of mortality.
“Lack of fitness when running on a treadmill or on a stress test has worse expectations, in terms of deaths, than high blood pressure, diabetes or smoking,” Jaber told CNN.
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg compared the death rate associated with a sedentary lifestyle to other risk factors most commonly associated with cardiovascular problems, and investigated the damage from inactivity to health.
“Reduced physical ability represents a greater risk of death from high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” said lead author of the study, Per Lauvenal.
“The benefits of physical activity throughout life are clear,” he said.
Five million deaths
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a “sedentary lifestyle” increases the chances of death by between 20% and 30%.
The foundation estimates that 5 million deaths could be prevented each year if the population was more physically active.
The number is not far from the 7 million deaths annually attributed to cigarettes. However, the dimensions of the risks of a sedentary lifestyle are unclear to many people.
He told me, “We’re not saying, ‘So don’t worry if you’re a smoker, as long as you’re not sedentary.”
“What we want to do is give the view that all risk factors are of concern, and that physical activity and efforts to maintain a healthy diet are just as important as avoiding smoking.”
It highlights “the goal should be to eliminate all risk factors.”
One of the biggest concerns about a sedentary lifestyle is the fact that it particularly affects young people.
According to WHO statistics, 81% of them do not engage in sufficient physical activity, a number three times higher than the number of adults.
The foundation considers sedentary lifestyle a “global public health problem” – and experts like Lee estimate it has reached epidemic proportions.
Another point of concern is the fact that lack of activity doesn’t just kill. The World Health Organization warns that it is also one of the leading causes of disability in the world.
Li explains, “An unstable lifestyle is very harmful to our health because physical activity benefits nearly every physiological system in the body. Through movement, we improve our health as a whole.”
The good news
However, the same scientists who have warned about the dangerous effects of a sedentary lifestyle, also emphasize how easy it is to avoid the negative consequences it causes.
“Walking at an accelerated pace for 15-30 minutes a day can significantly improve our health,” said the Harvard expert.
This means you don’t necessarily need to hit the gym, become a runner, or play any other sport to stop lying down.
You don’t even have to leave the house: just go up and down the stairs, tiptoe, and go up and down.
The important thing is to be on the move for two and a half hours every week, that is, for 150 minutes.
Cycling instead of using the car or getting off the bus or subway and walking a few blocks a day are other easy ways to achieve your weekly activity goal, if you have a chance to leave the house.
In the case of children and teens, it is recommended that they be active for at least an hour a day, although it does not have to be an entire hour at a time.
The benefits of exercise are so powerful that it can slow down the aging process.
This was indicated by a study conducted by a team of British researchers analyzing the effects of intense physical activity on the immune system.
“In studies of people who were active from childhood to old age – cyclists up to the age of 80 and who continued to do 100 kilometers or 150 kilometers a week – the results were amazing,” said Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Aging. At the University of Birmingham, UK, where the research was conducted.
“They had a lot of T cells,” he explained, referring to a type of lymphocyte that plays a central role in the body’s defense system, but which tends to decline with age.
The explanation is due to the fact that these people were able to prevent the organ that produces these lymphocytes, the thymus, from contracting. Generally, its size begins to shrink after the age of 20, shrinking to only 3% of its size over the course of five decades.
For a specialist, “staying seated for a long time today represents the threat to the living being that came from smoking.”
Lord also noted that it is not necessary to engage in intense levels of physical activity to reap the benefits.
He says, “Just do something. Anything you can do will help.”
He also assures me that exercise is especially beneficial as we get older.
“One of my teachers used to say that everything gets worse when you get older and becomes better when you stay active.”
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