Lifestyle-related chronic diseases, like cancer, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes account for 80 percent of deaths. Those chronic diseases are strongly associated and causally linked with four behaviors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol. Those behaviors lead to raised blood pressure, obesity, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and physiological changes. The World Cancer Research Fund has estimated that 27–39% of the main cancers can be prevented by improving diet, physical activity, and body composition. In this article, I will refer to physical activity and the impact that it has on our health.
Approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity.
Physical activity is a bodily activity that develops and maintain physical fitness and overall health. It is often practiced to strengthen muscles and the cardiovascular system and to enhance athletic skills. Regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, helps prevent such conditions as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Insufficient physical activity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality in the world. Approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity. People who are insufficiently physically active have a 20–30% increased risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week .
Participation in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week (or equivalent) is estimated to reduce the risk of ischaemic heart disease by approximately 30%, the risk of diabetes by 27%, and the risk of breast and colon cancer by 21–25% . Additionally, physical activity lowers the risk of stroke, hypertension and depression. It is a key determinant of energy expenditure and thus fundamental to energy balance and weight control.
Insufficient physical activity is defined as less than five times 30 minutes of moderate activity per week, or less than three times 20 minutes of vigorous activity per week, or equivalent.
Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2009.
Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2010.
Global status report on non-communicable diseases 2010- Description of the global burden of NCDs, their risk factors and determinants. World Health Organisation, 2011.