If you resolved to exercise more in 2014—or even for the rest of your life—then you’ve made a smart and healthy resolution. And you’re doing better than about 80 percent of the rest of our nation’s population, who, unfortunately, fall into the category of what could be termed a “fitness fail.”
And some of the reasons people give for not keeping fit range from “not having enough time to exercise” to “not being motivated.” Others say they travel too much, don’t have enough support from others to exercise and so on. Consequently, they remain inactive.
But fitness is one area in which you don’t want to become a slacker. In fact, not only does inactivity make you seem like a bump on a log, it also contributes heavily to major health problems or death. Steven Blair of the British Journal of Sports Medicine says that lack of fitness kills more than diabetes, heart disease and smoking combined. The implications of that statement have far-reaching effects for America, too, since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 80 percent of Americans don’t exercise regularly.
As Steven Blair pointed out, America is not the only country lacking in physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global death, and the incidence of physical inactivity is growing in many countries. The fitness fail fallout is problematic at best, too.
It leads to nearly 3.2 million deaths per year, and for people under the age of 60, it causes over 670,000 premature deaths annually. As if that weren’t enough, physical inactivity is thought to be causative for breast and colon cancer, and is behind 27 percent of diabetes and 30 percent of ischemic heart disease cases.
Part of the payoff of intentionally being physically active is cardiovascular fitness, which allows your heart and lungs to better provide oxygenated blood to your tissues. It also allows the muscles to properly use oxygen. Aerobic activity, such as walking, increases cardiovascular fitness—and it’s recommended to get some form of aerobic exercise five to six days per week for at least 30 minutes at a time. For instance, for those who are overweight, obese or diabetic, walking for 30 minutes a day can help balance blood sugar levels and help manage weight.
Even a marginal increase in physical activity, such as walking the dog twice daily or taking the stairs regularly, can help bolster your physical health and increase life expectancy by about half a year.
So, if you’re among those whose New Year’s resolution is to get more exercise, then kudos to you. No “fitness fail” for you!