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The Risks Of A Sedentary Lifestyle And The Benefits Of Regular Exercise

David Breaker before and after

Physical activity is an essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle that can benefit both physical and mental well-being. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, improve bone and muscle strength, and enhance mental health and cognitive function.

However, many individuals fail to meet the recommended levels of physical activity, which can adversely affect health. This article explores the different levels of physical activity and their relationship to exercise, with a focus on walking, cycling, and swimming.

My name is David Breaker; I am a Weight Loss Coach that is passionate about supporting others to achieve their own weight loss journey. 

Ten years ago, I was a very different man.

I was overweight, unemployed, and not living the life I deserved.

Luckily, I got a blunt wake-up call from my GP, who warned me I needed to change my life or I would be dead within five years. This led me to lose 18 stone and live the life I deserve.

With that aside, let’s delve into the article…

Activity Levels

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined different levels of physical activity based on the amount of energy expended per week. These levels include sedentary, low active, somewhat active, active, and highly active.

Sedentary individuals engage in very little physical activity and spend most of their time sitting or lying down. This level of activity is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases and premature death.

Low-active individuals engage in some physical activity but do not meet the recommended moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity levels. This level of activity can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases but may not provide all the benefits associated with higher levels of physical activity.

Somewhat active individuals engage in regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity but do not meet the recommended levels of 150 minutes per week. This level of activity can provide some health benefits but may not be sufficient to achieve optimal health outcomes.

Active individuals engage in the recommended levels of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, which is at least 150 minutes per week. This level of activity can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve overall health and well-being.

Highly active individuals engage in physical activity beyond the recommended levels, which can provide additional health benefits such as improved cardiorespiratory fitness and reduced risk of premature death.

What’s the difference between activity and exercise?

“Physical activity,” “exercise,” and “physical fitness” are terms that describe different concepts. However, they are often confused with one another, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. 

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure. The energy expenditure can be measured in kilocalories. Physical activity in daily life can be categorized into occupational, sports, conditioning, household, or other activities. 

Exercise is a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive and has as a final or an intermediate objective the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness. Physical fitness is a set of attributes that are either health- or skill-related.

Those wanting to focus on weight loss should concentrate on increasing their Physical activity rather than exercise, as exercise is for those that focus on their overall health and fitness.

Health Benefits of Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can have numerous health benefits. The WHO recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Children and adolescents should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily to support healthy growth and development.

Regular exercise can help improve cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also help improve bone and muscle strength, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and falls. Exercise can also help improve mental health and cognitive function, reducing the risk of depression and dementia.

Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Sitting for extended periods can also lead to muscle weakness, tightness, poor posture, and back pain.

Appropriate Exercises and Fitness Routines

Walking, cycling, and swimming are all excellent forms of physical activity that can be appropriate for individuals at different activity levels.

Walking is a low-impact activity that can be suitable for individuals at all levels of physical activity. For sedentary individuals, walking can be a good way to start increasing physical activity levels.

A routine that involves walking for 10-15 minutes, three times a day, can be a good starting point. As fitness levels improve, individuals can gradually increase the duration and intensity of their walks, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity walking per day.

Cycling is another low-impact activity that can be suitable for individuals at all levels of physical activity. For sedentary individuals, cycling can be a good way to start increasing physical activity levels, especially if joint pain or mobility issues make walking difficult.

A routine that involves cycling for 10-15 minutes, three times a day, can be a good starting point. As fitness levels improve, individuals can gradually increase the duration and intensity of their cycling, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling per day.

Swimming is a low-impact activity that can be suitable for individuals at all levels of physical activity. For sedentary individuals, swimming can be a good way to start increasing physical activity levels, especially if joint pain or mobility issues make walking or cycling difficult.

A routine that involves swimming for 10-15 minutes, three times a day, can be a good starting point. As fitness levels improve, individuals can gradually increase the duration and intensity of their swimming, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity swimming per day.

For somewhat active individuals, increasing the duration and intensity of their walks, cycling, or swimming routines can help them move towards the recommended levels of physical activity. For example, individuals can aim for 60-90 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per day, such as brisk walking, cycling uphill, or swimming laps.

For active and highly active individuals, a combination of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity and muscle-strengthening activities can help maintain and improve physical fitness.

Muscle-strengthening activities include weightlifting, resistance band exercises, and bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and squats. The WHO recommends that adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.

Examples for Different Age Groups

Children and Adolescents: Children and adolescents should engage in various age-appropriate and enjoyable physical activities. Examples include running, jumping, skipping, ball games, and dancing.

Walking, cycling, and swimming can also be suitable activities for this age group. In addition, parents and caregivers should aim to limit sedentary behaviours such as screen time and encourage regular physical activity to support healthy growth and development.

Adults: Adults should aim to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Walking, cycling, and swimming can all be suitable activities for this age group.

Muscle-strengthening activities should also be incorporated at least two days per week. In addition, adults should aim to reduce sedentary behaviours such as prolonged sitting or watching TV.

Seniors: Seniors should aim to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week, as long as it is safe for them to do so.

Walking, cycling, and swimming can all be suitable activities for this age group. Strength and balance exercises should also be incorporated at least two days per week to reduce the risk of falls and maintain independence.

Increasing Physical Activity

Several strategies can be effective for individuals looking to increase their physical activity levels. 

These include:

  1. Setting realistic goals: Individuals should set achievable goals that are specific, measurable, and time-bound. For example, aiming to walk for 30 minutes every day for a week.
  2. Finding enjoyable activities: Individuals should choose activities that they enjoy to make it more likely that they will stick to them.
  3. Incorporating physical activity into daily routines: Simple changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to the shops instead of driving can help increase physical activity levels.
  4. Tracking progress: Individuals can use a pedometer or fitness app to track their progress and stay motivated.
  5. Finding social support: Exercising with friends or joining a group can help individuals stay motivated and accountable.

Engaging in regular physical activity is essential for maintaining optimal health and well-being. Walking, cycling, and swimming are all excellent forms of physical activity that can be appropriate for individuals at different activity levels.

By setting realistic goals, finding enjoyable activities, and incorporating physical activity into daily routines, individuals can increase their physical activity levels and reap the many health benefits associated with regular exercise.

The benefits of physical activity are clear, from reducing the risk of chronic diseases to improving mental health and well-being.

It is important to note that individuals should consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine, especially if they have pre-existing health conditions or are new to exercise.

Starting slowly and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of physical activity can help prevent injury and ensure that individuals engage in safe and effective exercise.

In summary, physical activity is essential for optimal health and well-being. Walking, cycling, and swimming are excellent forms of exercise that can be appropriate for individuals at different activity levels.

By incorporating physical activity into daily routines, setting realistic goals, and finding enjoyable activities, individuals can increase their physical activity levels and improve their overall health and well-being.

Please remember that you are not the only person on this journey. Many others in the world struggle with this, and it’s ok to ask for help.

Without support, I would not have achieved my weight loss journey, so reach out to friends, family, and those around you.

If you need further support from me, please don’t hesitate to call and book a Consultation. (insert this link, please: https://www.breakthroughlifecoaching.co.uk/weight-loss-coaching-programme/)

David Breaker

David

Your Weight Loss Coach

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