The horrors of being inactive

Five things that happen to your body when you don't exercise at all
The horrors of being inactive
What happens to your body when you don't exercise at allImage: The Bridge Chronicle

Imagine it's a Sunday, and you have a fair idea of what the next week brings. You have your usual, work schedule and errands on your list. Apart from that, you also have to work on the additional project you took on last week. You have your online classes to attend to and few calls daily.

In your overall busy schedule, you also have to squeeze in some time for the family, and of course for your self. There is also exercising that you have been meaning to do. But since most of us are working from home, it is nearly impossible to find any time of the day when we are not working. However, the fatigue from working is so much, that you can barely get anything done post work. Pushing half of your plans for the week to the next.

But did you know? Most of the times, our body is simply tired because we believe it to be so. It's the ancient concept of 'Mind over body'. If we limit our body's ability to do something, and continuously tell ourselves that we are tired, our body begins to feel that way. But if we reorganize your day to make it more productive, you will be able to do much more than you plan to.

Especially when it comes to exercising, most of us are either lazy or too preoccupied to make time during the day to exercise. But as it turns out, not exercising at all could be as life-threatening as smoking or drunk driving.

What research says?

According to research published in The Lancet, not moving a muscle, leading an inactive or sedentary life causes more deaths around the world than diabetes or cigarette smoking. The study suggested that the least fit people were at a 500 per cent increased risk of dying early.

The Bridge Chronicle looks into the further impact of inactivity on your heart, mind and mood.

Heart

When exercising, physical activity places a lot of pressure on your heart to pump blood to your working muscles. This essentially helps improves the ability of your heart to pump blood as well as strengthen your muscles for times of actual stress.

"Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve circulation, blood pressure and cardiac output, which is a measure of how well the heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body," says Dr Morski board-certified family medicine and sports medicine physician.

But when you don't exercise, the heart or the muscles become weak and are unable to react to any kind of stressful stimuli. This impacts your health as eventually your body's ability to carry out regular functions deteriorates.

Additionally, in a study published in ​Circulation Research​, researchers found that a sedentary lifestyle is a leading factor for causing cardiovascular diseases, and all causes of mortality.

Mind

Apart from your body, exercising has a great impact on the way your brain functions. Exercising helps improve the memory and learning capacity of the brain. It also helps strengthen the brain to better adapt to a stressful situation and leads to structural reorganisation in the brain that helps us become more productive.

However, if you do not exercise, the effects could be detrimental. Studies published in Mayo Clinic Proceedingssuggest exercising helps slow brain ageing and also slow the process of cognitive decline ( a process of slowing down how your brain processes information).

Mood

Did you know, being sedentary for more than three hours a day, can make you feel depressed? This finding was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

However, with changes in the external situations, we may have overcome the low threshold. It is still scientifically proven, that even healthy adults when shifting to a sedentary lifestyle (let's call it the 2020-21 lifestyle) can experience detrimental effects on their mental health.

Apart from this, here are 10 things that happen to our body when we don't exercise at all.

Disturbed sleep: Did you know? Just as poor sleep due to over-exhaustion is dangerous, poor sleep due to lack of physical activity is also life-threatening. Studies suggest that rigorous exercise, especially outdoor exercise is a highly effective drug-free sleep inducer. Studies also show a relationship between exercise and improved sleep quality and duration.

Brittle bones: Brittle bone is a syndrome of old age. This occurs as calcium in your bones is reabsorbed into your bloodstream that reduces bone mass leading to brittle bones. Exercise is an effective way to prevent this, as exercise helps maintain bone health.

Decrease in good cholesterol: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is essential for removing harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to increase HDL in the body as it regulates hormones production and also improves bodily functioning. But if your body is low on HDL, it directly affects the level of cholesterol in the body, leading to higher heart risk.

Joint pain: If you experience regular pain in your body especially around the joints — it is not because of hours in front of your computer but rather failing to compensate it with some amount of activity. "Limiting your movements can weaken muscles, compounding joint trouble, and affect your posture, setting off a cascade of further problems," write researchers at Harvard Medical School in HEALTHBeat.

Decreased level of endurance: Endurance is a measure of the body's ability to provide support during bouts of intense stress. This endurance is built over time and is considered to be the highest among athletes. A test called VO2 max is used to measure the maximum amount of a measure of oxygen a person can use during a period of intense exercise. It is a standard used to measure a person's cardiovascular fitness, which is the measure of their endurance. But according to studies, athletes lost over 11.3 per cent of their VO2 max after a five-week hiatus from training. So imagine, if athletes who train at great extents can lose so much to a short vacation. The amount of endurance in people who do not exercise is negligible. Which is really important in times of extreme stress or illness.

Living a healthy lifestyle is not something that comes naturally. As human beings, we always prefer to seek comfort. But the choice of living a healthy life can go a long way in building a strong foundation for a fulfilling and secured life.

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