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Physical inactivity is risky business when it comes to health

Physical inactivity is a significant risk factor in Australia, it is the second largest contributor for chronic disease (behind Smoking) yet more than 7 million Australians adults aren’t undertaking sufficient exercise to obtain any health benefit.

Whilst advances in technology have sometimes been blamed for an increase in sedentary behaviour, we have also seen its benefits. The recent Pokémon Go craze for many adults has provided numerous stories of improved health and weight loss coming to market. This is positive news and shows how any movement, performed regularly, can provide significant health benefits.

The Dangers of Sitting

Whilst we have known for many years the dangers of insufficient activity, the danger of sitting too long has been seen to also cause significant health risks. Sitting for too long has been shown to have a similar impacts to being inactive. Whilst a recent systematic review1 has found that including 1 hour of higher intensity activity per day may help reduce the consequences of sitting for long periods, being active throughout the course of the day in addition to a one hour block of formal activity, is an effective means of managing a multitude of health risks.

People who are not physically active are more likely to:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Find it difficult to manage weight
  • Have a heart attack, or develop diabetes or Alzheimers
  • Be more stressed, lower self esteem
  • Have poorer mental health
  • Have a shorter life span
  • Have weaker muscles and bones
  • Have poorer sleep

Research also indicates that being physically active can help with management of mental health conditions. Recent statistics show that suicide is the leading cause of death for 15-44 year olds2, whilst one in five Australian adults will experience mental illness this year3. Given the positive effects of social activity, and physical activity on mental health, the Pokemon Go craze certainly ticks some boxes (though if you do choose to play, make sure you check both ways before crossing the road!)

If walking around looking for Pokemon is not your thing though, this doesn’t mean you can’t get outside and start incorporating physical activity into your day; getting off the bus a stop early, going for a walk at lunch time, or walking around the park whilst your kids are playing instead of sitting and watching.

Given these factors, it makes sense to start to incorporate physical activity as a regular part of your day.

To learn more about how much physical activity you need click here

  1. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)30370-1/fulltext
  2. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3303.0
  3. http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/Factsandfiguresaboutmentalhealthandmooddisorders.pdf


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