Over the past century humans have become increasingly sedentary due to technical and scientific advancements in the world. While machines and improvements in transportation and communication have made parts of our lives easier, many studies are now suggesting that the decline in our physical activity associated with these advancements has played a large role in the decline of our health.
Regular physical activity, fitness, and exercise are critically important for the health and well being of people of all ages. Research has demonstrated that virtually all individuals can benefit from regular physical activity, whether they are participating in strenuous exercise or some type of moderate physical activity. Even among frail and very old adults, mobility and functioning can be improved through movement and physical activity. The statistics of disease in America are astounding. For example, 12.6 million people have coronary heart disease, 1.1 million people suffer from heart attacks in a given year and over 17 million people have diabetes (90% to 95% of those cases are type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and physical inactivity).
Moreover, approximately 16 million people have “pre diabetes”, 107,000 people are newly diagnosed with colon cancer each year, 300,000 people suffer from hip fractures each year, 50 million people have high blood pressure, and nearly 50 million adults (between the ages of 20 and 74), or 27% of the adult population, are obese. That equals out to more than 108 million adults, or 61% of the adult population being either obese or overweight.
The numbers tell a frightening story and suggest that millions of Americans suffer from chronic illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical activity. Research has confirmed that any amount of exercise, at any age, is beneficial. And, in general, the more you do, the greater the benefits. In addition, regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the morbidity and mortality from many chronic diseases with the most researched areas being heart disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
In subsequent articles, we will be exploring the benefits of exercise and physical activity with other injuries and diseases including Multiple Sclerosis, back and knee injuries, gastrointestinal diseases, Parkinson’s disease, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Further, we will be highlighting the importance of the mind-body connection as it relates to overall health. Finally, we will be discussing specific types of exercises that can help to prevent certain illnesses and injuries.