What if I told you I had the magic bullet of medicine? This medicine is so powerful and so effective that it reduces cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, reduces blood sugar levels, improves bone density and joint functioning, reduces stress and anxiety, elevates your mood, improves sleep quality, improves cognitive functioning, is anti-inflammatory, improves immune system functioning, and lowers your risk of all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality! This means it reduces your risk of dying from any cause, including opportunistic infections and viruses.
I do have this magic bullet, and it does all of these things. But it takes a little work, and it takes a daily decision to move. Of course, I’m talking about physical activity. Physical activity level has a tremendous impact on health, and the more active you are, the better your health will be across the board. On the flip side, sedentary behavior also has a tremendous impact on health. Sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health and mortality rate. The more you sit, the worse your health will be across the board. That includes sitting for work, sitting to eat, sitting for leisure activities, and sitting for a commute (which may not be a factor at this point in time, but perhaps it used to be and will be again). Sitting time is such a powerful detriment to our health that exercising for 30-60 minutes per day does not fully counteract the negative effects of sitting for the majority of the day for other activities.
Physical activity adds up over the course of a day. It is important to move around, move your blood through your body, and move your muscles over and over again. Adding 30-60 minutes of exercise each day on top of this provides all of the benefits mentioned in the first paragraph. Physical activity level is even more important than bodyweight for your health. Healthy-weight adults who have low physical activity levels are at higher health risk than those who are overweight but are physically active every day. Consistency is the key.
I mentioned that higher levels of physical activity and exercise reduce your risk of dying from any cause, including opportunistic infections and viruses. More and more data suggest that a person’s baseline level of health can help predict their outcome if they become infected with COVID-19. Even seemingly healthy young adults with underlying factors such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels have worse outcomes. Physical activity can address those factors.
The message is simple; making a change is not. If you are already active, please stay that way! If you are ready to move more but not sure how, we are here to help. Let’s stay active and heathy together!
Written by Dr. Kim Richards, PT, DPT
Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy
Certified Applied Prevention and Health Promotion Therapist