If you work in a healthcare related field, you know that physical inactivity can lead to a whole host of health related problems. But you may be surprised at just how widespread and far reaching this problem is. Those of us in the physical therapy world know this all too well.
Jobs are more sedentary in nature than ever before. When you figure in driving time and time spent sitting at a TV or computer screen, many people are sitting nearly 13 hours per day.
According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day and more than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
Increasing physical activity is part of whole person care
These statistics are based on physical activity, which goes beyond what you might traditionally think of as exercise. So, if you take these numbers into account, the percentage of people who take part in a dedicated exercise program is much smaller.
Per the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, meeting baseline guidelines for physical activity reduces your risks for: Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, falls, many types of cancer (colon, breast, and likely endometrial and lung), mental health conditions like depression, and premature death.
Regular exercise and physical activity, along with proper nutrition, is one of the best ways to help control your weight.
Staying at a healthy weight is not only healthy for you, it saves you money as well. The President’s Council notes that “the annual cost of being overweight is $524 for women and $432 for men; annual costs for being obese are even higher: $4,879 for women and $2,646 for men.”
It doesn’t just stop at the personal level. The costs to the healthcare system are even more staggering, “projections estimate that by 2018, obesity will cost the U.S. 21 percent of our total healthcare costs – $344 billion annually.”
Everyone can agree that we should be more active, so why aren’t we?
For many people (and I’ll include myself in this statement) exercise is boring.
Because of this, maybe the better question to ask for those of us in the healthcare industry is, how can we better engage our patients to make sure they are staying active?
As a profession we need to look beyond the specific issue our patients are facing and realize that we have a duty to help the whole person. Education is incredibly important, but it needs to lead to action to have any real, lasting benefit.
For those like me, that don’t find pleasure in working out at the gym, the first step is to find something active that you enjoy.
Walking is one of the best things you can do as it works several muscle groups as well as your heart and lungs. If walking isn’t your thing, try going to the pool, biking, gardening, hiking, anything you can do to get moving. From there you can start to incorporate basic exercises that do not require any equipment at all.
For example, as a home health therapist, chair squats (sit to stands) and stairs are a couple of my favorite activities to prescribe. Physical therapy, exercise, and physical activity don’t have to be boring.
It also doesn’t have to be complicated to have a positive effect.
WHO data: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en/
CDC data on physical activity and health: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/
President’s Council: https://www.fitness.gov/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/
Survey on sitting: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-to-sit-or-stand-almost-70-of-full-time-american-workers-hate-sitting-but-they-do-it-all-day-every-day-215804771.html
Further information: http://www.exercise-works.org