Physical inactivity is a global problem that affects many people across all demographics. With the changing tides in technology, people have been forced to adapt to new lifestyles that limit physical activity. For instance, instead of walking up the stairs of a building, people opt to use elevators and other movement machines that replace the walking function of the human body (Dishman et al. 6). Notably, the decrease in physical activity amongst people in various parts of the world highly impacts the health and wellbeing of various populations. Unless the issue of physical activity is addressed, most of the world’s population will continually deal with arising problems like increased disease, a decrease in life expectancy and increased medical costs (Bouchard 14). This paper discusses the problem of physical inactivity, including its background, effects and probable solutions and recommendations that will aid in solving the problem.
Causes of physical Inactivity
One of the leading causes of physical inactivity is industrialization and modernization. Human beings have evolved technologically, creating machines and mechanized transport systems that replace physical activity (Bouchard 14). With the rise of mechanized innovations, more than 60% of the world’s population is currently physically inactive (Dishman et al. 6). As a result there is high prevalence of diseases that are directly linked to lack of physical activity. Health experts believe that physical activity is connected to longevity, hence lack therein causes health problems that limit the physical wellbeing and general health an individual.
Another cause of physical inactivity is the increase of sedentary behavior, especially amongst the working social class. This issue can be linked to increased modernization, where people are inclined to work or participate in activities that limits energy expenditure to a value that is equal to or less that 1.5 metabolic equivalents (≤1.5 METs) (Dishman et al. 6). This may include office work that requires one to sit for long hours or school routines where students also sit for long hours, among others.
Increased urbanization is also another factor that leads to physical inactivity. This is due to the fact that the increase in urbanization has led to a change in the local environment. For instance, the creation of urbanized towns draws people together, consequently increasing the rate of conflict through factors like violence (Dishman et al. 6). As a result, many people living in urban areas choose to alienate themselves from such activity by confining to their homes, hence engaging in activity like watching television as opposed to walking or running outside. Additionally, increased urbanization has led to limited space for physical activity like biking or playing for children through the use of large spaces for infrastructure.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices can also cause physical inactivity. In the current era, many people engage in lifestyle choices that involve drug abuse, alcohol abuse, excessive smoking, and even watching too much television (Bouchard 14). Poor diet and nutrition also arise from lifestyle choices that increase the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Research shows that there is high prevalence of unhealthy lifestyle choices among people from varying parts of the world, a factors that suggests a global problem. When individuals expose themselves to poor lifestyle choices, they become physically inactive as a result of consequential factors like obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes.
Effects of Physical Inactivity
Physical inactivity has led to increased risk of health complications such as hypertension, heart disease, colon and breast cancer, obesity, gallstone formation, adult onset diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression (Hardman, Adrianne & David, 15). People who are physically inactive not only expose themselves to the aforementioned risks but also run the risk of leading sedentary lives in old age. Presently, health experts establish that the pathogenesis of most chronic diseases and disorders are linked to physical inactivity. Further, physical inactivity leads to the development of disuse syndrome, which accompanies health problems like obesity, premature ageing, musculoskeletal fragility, cardiovascular risk and depression. Approximately 15% of the total 1.6 million newly diagnosed chronic illnesses annually are attributed to lack of physical exercise. Notably, lack of physical activity in children leads to increased risk of diseases, obesity and mental problems. (Saris et al. 101). Physical activity also causes increased mortality and morbidity rates across different populations in the world.
Physical inactivity has also led to increased levels of poverty, which is an economical consequence that results from increased medical costs and a rise of unmanageable diseases especially among poor and working social class individuals. Given that reduced physical activity directly correlates with increased disease rates, many affected people deal with problems the associated health problems, hence limiting individual growth both socially and economically. The economic implications of physical inactivity also extends to governments, which are burdened by costs to treat a larger percentage of its citizens due to resultant diseases and unhealthy lifestyles. Notably, many developed countries like the US incur large medical costs that result from lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes, which are attributed to physical inactivity.
Physical inactivity also has social consequences through as a result of associated stigmatization of unhealthy and unfit individuals. For instance, many obese people experience stigma, bullying and other social challenges tied to obesity. As a result, many victims lack the social capacity to cope while most continue engage in stress-eating which creates more health complications. In other cases, people who develop illnesses like obesity due to lack of physical activity are prone to develop secondary psychological challenges that are linked to depression and anxiety.
The problem of physical inactivity can be solved through the implementation of practices that encourage physical activity. This can be achieved through the creation of awareness in the benefits of physical activity as well as risks associated with lack therein. Educating the masses on a global scale, will not only sensitize people but also promote healthy living through increased physical exercises (Hardman, Adrianne & David, 15). When people engage in more physical activity, they will reduce the risk of associated diseases and also develop a strong immune system.
Decreased dependence on innovative technologies, machinery and mechanized transport systems will also help improve physical activity across different populations. People should therefore be encouraged to develop a habit of exercising through day-to-day practices like substituting the use of trolleys to physically carrying of shopping bags, walking instead driving for short distances, running, cycling, increased outdoor play for children, and reduced television watching.
Higher authorities like governments can also aid by providing necessary resources like running terrains, parks, recreational fields as well as implementing policies in all public institutions, aimed at improving physical activity. For instance, governments can intervene by creating school policies that expose students to games, running exercises, physical education and constant breaks in between class periods to allow for movement and reduced sedentary activities.
The issue of physical inactivity can also be solved by parent and guardian intervention, by encouraging children to engage in increased physical activity like outdoor play, biking, cycling and swimming among others. Prior studies shows that increased physical activity in children lowers the risk of diseases and also improves their health and fitness level by improving their physical and bodily stature.
Individual input is also necessary to tackle the problem. This is because the basic foundations of physical inactivity applies to personal choices, in that people cannot be coerced to engage in physical activity. Individuals should be encouraged by physicians, fitness experts and even governments to engage in physical activity. When appropriate entities encourage physical activity, people may be drawn to comply hence willingly develop healthy habits that will boost their health.
To improve physical activity in children, parents, guardians and children’s representatives should implement strategies that allow children aged 5-17 to accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day (World Health Organization 2). Additionally, children should be encouraged to regularly participate in aerobic activities to strengthen their muscles and bones.
To improve physical activity in adults aged 18-64, health experts encourage that they participate in moderate exercises for at least 150 minutes, and 75 minutes of high intensity exercise every week (World Health Organization 2). Muscle strengthening exercises should also be done at least twice a week. Additionally, older adults and adults with poor mobility, physical activity should be performed at least three times a week to strengthen muscles and prevent falls.
In Conclusion, physical activity is an important factor in the wellbeing and general health of individuals. Lack of physical activity is caused by several factors including the impact of industrialization, modernization and urbanization, all of which have introduced a culture that reduces physical activity. Further, unhealthy life style choices have greatly contributed to the increase of physical inactivity as a result of poor health and a poor immune system. People should engage in physical activity because it improves the immune system, promotes fitness, reduces the risk of chronic and lifestyle diseases, increases longevity and also enables effective growth and development in children.