7 September 22
‘Every movement Counts’ …or does it?
21 September 22
In reality, what are the Risks of sedentary working… and the benefits of exercise?
There is growing evidence that being sedentary is very harmful to health, and as the World Health Organisation has phrased it, ‘EVERY MOVEMENT COUNTS‘.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time is harmful and is associated with worse all-cause mortality, even in those achieving the recommended physical activity guidelines of over 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week.
It is estimated that 23% of adults and 45% of children and young adults in the UK do not achieve the physical activity recommendations. (1)
How can increasing physical activity help me?
There is emerging evidence that being physically active and reducing sedentary time has protective effects from the COVID-19 disease; the pandemic-driven lockdowns and subsequent behavioural changes led to a decrease in activity levels. (2)
The WHO message that ‘every movement counts’ is reinforced by data showing that 1000 additional steps per day, independent of intensity, are associated with a 13% reduction in all-cause mortality. (3)
Even just a 5-minute brisk walk of 500 steps daily is associated with decreases in cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
Can it be dangerous for me to exercise more?
Some people worry that they are so unfit that increasing activity might be risky for them. However, studies show that the risk of sudden death during moderate to vigorous exertion is very low, and the risk can be mitigated by building up levels of physical activity gradually.
Individuals should be advised to monitor their symptoms as they increase activity. (4,5)
We agree with the general scientific consensus that physical activity should be considered a vital sign to be measured alongside blood pressure and heart rate, given its importance to health, especially in people with long-term health conditions like diabetes.
A recent consensus statement highlighted that the health benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks in those with long-term health conditions. (6)
There are only a few conditions that are an absolute contraindication to increase activity, such as significant heart disease; however, cardiac rehabilitation centres also stress the need for increased need for mobility to improve daily symptoms and quality of life. If in doubt, liaise with your doctor.
How can Health Drive Digital improve my health and reduce sickness?
The World Health Organization’s message is that ‘every movement counts’, any duration of physical activity counts towards their daily and weekly total.
Digital mobile-health interventions result in sustained increases in physical activity, and even simple pedometer-based interventions can achieve 434 additional steps/day at 3–4 years’ follow-up. (7)
The effectiveness of behaviour-change interventions such as self-monitoring and behaviour feedback in promoting physical activity is well established.
Our real-time digital mobile health intervention utilises Fitbit’s activity trackers, sleep analysis, heart rate and oxygen monitoring via our app and virtual ward can contribute positively toward the World Health Organization’s aim of reducing physical inactivity by 10% by 2025 due to our highly scalable platform.
How will getting fitter help me?
Exercise has been shown to help almost every system in our bodies, improving the length and quality of our lives, the quality of our sleep and all the while reducing the risks of developing major illnesses that often do not need to happen.
It reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer; it can reduce your risk of early death by 30%. (8)
Inactivity has been described by the Department of Health as the ‘silent killer’, by others as the ‘new smoking’, it increases obesity, heart disease, and your risk of developing diabetes; sitting for prolonged periods is very bad for your health. (9)
Exercise reduces cardiovascular risk factors and is also a therapeutic treatment for people with cardiovascular disease. (10)
Lowering blood pressure, by participating in regular aerobic exercise, you can lower your resting systolic blood pressure by 5–7 mmHg and so reduce your risk of heart disease. (11)
Lowering cholesterol with regular moderate intensity physical activity increases your good cholesterol, HDL, while higher intensity exercise is better at reducing your LDL, which is linked to artery and heart disease. (12)
So, that’s lower blood pressure and cholesterol without taking any medications for life.
Healthier weight and less diabetes-
Regular aerobic exercise can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes, and it also has considerable health benefits for people with type 1 diabetes.
For those already with type2 diabetes, if you add in some resistance training, this can reduce fat mass, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and control of your blood sugar. (13)
Studies have shown that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity, simply being sat down for prolonged periods, like when at work, puts on weight. (14)
And for those who would like to lose weight, studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training maximizes fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off and maintaining lean muscle mass. (15)
Exercise also helps you to build your bone density when you’re younger this helps to prevent osteoporosis later in your life. (16)
Improved mood, sleep, and memory-
Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. (17)
Regular exercise can help you relax and sleep better, even for those people who suffer from chronic insomnia. (18)
And for those of us who worry about our memory as we get older, the good news is that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, promoting brain health and has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that can contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and
Reduced risk of cancers-
Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of several cancers, including breast, bowel, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, lung, liver, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, thyroid, gastric, and oesophageal cancers. (20)
Regular moderate exercise stimulates and improves blood flow to the skin and increases your body’s production of natural antioxidants, which protect cells and induce skin cell adaptations that can help delay the appearance of your skin from ageing. (21)
Many of us suffer from back and neck pain which is made worse with prolonged sitting and being sedentary, and some of us have chronic pain for various reasons. But here is more good news, recent studies show that exercise helps to reduce the time and severity of chronic pain and improves your mobility and your quality of life.
This includes chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder, to name a few. (22)
Better sex life-
Interesting, it is good to know that regular exercise can strengthen the heart, improve blood circulation, tone muscles, and enhance flexibility, all of which can improve your sex life. The same study proved that exercise boosts sex drive and increased frequency and pleasure of sexual activity (23)
Sexual function may fluctuate as we get on in life, but the good news is that for men, a review of 10 studies also found that exercising for at least 160 minutes per week over a 6-month period could help significantly improve erectile function. (24)
And for women, one study showed that regular exercise was associated with increased sexual function and desire in 405 postmenopausal women. 25).
In a nutshell.
There are so many benefits to exercise, and it’s free, every movement counts, and your mind and your body will thank you every time that you get moving. Less sickness with better health and well-being, so get moving and live your best life.
We’re not making this stuff up.
1- Public Health England. Fingertips: physical activity, 2021. https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/ profile/physical activity/data
2- Tison GH, Avram R, Kuhar P, et al. Worldwide effect of COVID-19 on physical activity: a descriptive study. Ann Intern Med 2020; 173(9): 767–770.
3- Sheng M, Yang J, Bao M, et al. The relationships between step count and all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events: a dose-response meta-analysis. J Sport Health Sci 2021; 10(6): 620–628.
4- Albert CM, Mittleman MA, Chae CU, et al. Triggering of sudden death from cardiac causes by vigorous exertion. N England J Med 2000; 343(19): 1355–1361.
5- Whang W, Manson JE, Hu FB, et al. Physical exertion, exercise, and sudden cardiac death in women. JAMA 2006; 295(12): 1399–1403.
6- Reid H, Ridout AJ, Tomaz SA, et al. Benefits outweigh the risks: a consensus statement on the risks of physical activity for people living with long-term conditions. Br J Sports Med 2022; 56(8): 427–438.
7- Chaudhry UAR, Wahlich C, Fortescue R, et al. The effects of step-count monitoring interventions on physical activity: systematic review and meta-analysis of community-based randomised controlled trials in adults. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2020; 17(1): 129.
9- Korean J Fam Med. 2020 Nov; 41(6): 365–373. Jancey et al. 2016. Hallman et al 2018
10- Effects of Exercise to Improve Cardiovascular Health. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2019; 6:69.
11- Hypertension and the Brain (S Stocker, Section Editor) Published: 30 September 2015
12- Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile: Review, Synthesis and Recommendations. Sports Med. 2014; 44(2): 211–221.
13- Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association. Volume 39, Issue 11, 1 November 2016
14- Physical Activity, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and the Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients. 2019 Jul; 11(7): 1652.
15- Aerobic or Resistance Exercise, or Both, in Dieting Obese Older Adults. N Engl J Med. 2017 May 18; 376(20): 1943–1955.
16- Influence of Adolescents’ Physical Activity on Bone Mineral Acquisition: A Systematic Review Article. Iran J Public Health 2016 Dec;45(12):1545-1557.
17- Effects of Single Bouts of Walking Exercise and Yoga on Acute Mood Symptoms in People with Multiple Sclerosis. Int J MS Care, Jan-Feb 2016
18- The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med. 2015 Jun;38(3):427-49.
19- Resilience to Alzheimer’s Disease: The Role of Physical Activity. Curr Alzheimers Res. 2017 Apr 3;14(5);546-553
20- American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 09 June 2020.
21- Exercise-stimulated interleukin-15 is controlled by AMPK and regulates skin metabolism and ageing. Ageing Cell. 2015 Aug;14(4):625-34
22- Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jan 14;1
23- An investigation of the relationship between physical fitness, self-concept, and sexual functioning. J Educ Health Promot. 2018; 7: 57. 2017 Jan 14;1
24- Physical Activity to Improve Erectile Function: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies. Sex Med. 2018 Jun; 6(2): 75–89.
25- Sexual Function and Exercise in Postmenopausal Women. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2016 May