Sedentary Lifestyle Has Both Short and Long Term Effects

Eating better and becoming more active are usually the first steps in a short-term goal to lose weight. Unfortunately, having this type of “beginning and end” mentality (as in “I’ll diet and exercise until I reach my goal weight and then I can stop”) is not the best strategy for overall health. And in fact, it can be de-motivating and likely one of the reasons so many of us give up too soon.

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It is true that increasing your time being active, rather than binge-watching Netflix, can help you with your weight loss efforts. One study found that people who walk an hour a day can cut the risk of obesity by 24%. Remember that it does not have to be all at one time to achieve benefits.

Use reminders like FitBit

I have fallen in love with my FitBit, because it reminds me of my daily goal (10,000 steps) and keeps me apprised of where I am with that goal and how much more I need to do to get there. Hence, I’ll take the stairs more often, walk to a colleague to ask a question rather than call or text, and I’ll park my car just a little further out from a store for a few extra steps.

But it is very easy to become discouraged, especially when you do not see the weight falling off quite as fast as you think it should. That is when you need to think about the other health benefits that exercise does for you.

Eat more Plant-based foods to to combat cognitive decline

For example, research out just this month has established an association with eating a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle with an increased susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the researchers found that this combination can contribute to as many as 25% of Alzheimer’s cases.

Researchers from Tufts University and the Jackson Laboratory found the connection by doing studies on lab mice. High amounts of animal products, fat and sugars, combined with a decreased intake in plant-based foods and foods with high nutrient density, led to a dramatic change in immune response activity in the brain which, over the long term, can lead to inflammation – and eventual cognitive decline.

So as you are sitting there contemplating skipping that workout, keep these things in mind:

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• People who are physically inactive have an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including colon and breast cancer. One study showed a 40% decrease in cancer mortality in persons who were physically active compared to those who were inactive.

• Physical activity helps prevent insulin resistance, the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes. A recent study reported that for every 2 hours that a person watched TV, the risk of type 2 diabetes increased 14%.

• People who are sedentary have the highest rate of both heart attack and stroke. Just 3 hours or more per week (half an hour daily) of physical activity can cut the risk of heart attack in half.

• Lack of physical activity increases the loss of lean muscle tissue, making activities of daily living (dressing and bathing) and instrumental activities of daily living (grocery shopping, performing transfers) much more difficult to perform. PS - Loss of vital lean muscle tissue also makes it more difficult to maintain ideal body weight.

• Bones, like muscles, require regular exercise to maintain their mineral content and strength. Bone loss progresses much faster in people who are physically inactive.

• People who don't perform regular physical activity are more likely to become depressed.

• People who get regular physical activity have a more efficient immune system, which helps ward off various disease and illnesses such as colds and the flu.

Journal Reference:
Leah C. Graham, Gareth R. Howell et al. Chronic consumption of a western diet induces robust glial activation in aging mice and in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 21568 DOI: 10.1038/srep21568

Additional Resource:
The National Center on Health, Physical Activity & Disability

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