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Are Americans Turning Into Couch Potatoes?

7 months ago

5200  0
Posted on Nov 20, 2023, 4 p.m.

Nearly half of Americans sit for too many hours a day and most don’t get any exercise at all, turning this country into a sedentary nation of couch potatoes, and this trend appears to be increasing. Sedentary lifestyles increase the risks for heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and early death explains Dr. Emily Ussery, lead author and an epidemiologist at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which is a part of the CDC, who points out that sitting itself is not bad, rather proxy for not getting enough physical activity.

Understandings of the health hazards of excessive sitting are improving, although all of the reasons why prolonged sitting is unhealthy are still not known; large muscles are deactivated when people sit, and this can have a host of metabolic consequences that seem to be harmful. 

Most experts agree that more and better efforts are needed to get people off of the couch and moving, programs that increase physical activity and reduce sitting may be effective at reducing health risks for many conditions. 

Within the USA over the past quarter century, the three leading causes of premature death are tobacco use, poor diet, and lack of physical activity, according to Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, who goes on to explain as smoking declines, poor diet and lack of exercise are becoming the leading cause of early death and chronic disease.

Many people sit for most of the day, and not just for work, most of these people do little actual exercise. 1 in 10 will miss out on the benefits of exercise and intermittent daily motion; simply standing up and moving around will decrease sitting time which will be more beneficial to health. There are a variety of options available to increase movement ranging from standing and treadmill desks, walking to meetings or parking further, taking the stairs, to chairs that involve constant motion. Physical activity is about finding opportunities to add movement throughout the day which will contribute to a healthy lifestyle. 

Regular physical activity can improve brain health, reduce the risk of 8 different forms of cancer, and lower the risk for excess weight gain and attributed risks; while single bouts of physical activity can sharpen the mind, reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and strengthen the ability of the body to convert blood sugar into energy. 

Sedentary lifestyles cause 10% of early deaths in America according to Brett Giroir; if 25% of inactive people got the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week nearly 75,000 premature deaths could be prevented.

Despite research and warnings from experts in America, obesity rates continue to increase as they have been for decades; now researchers are predicting that by the year 2030 close to half of all adults will be obese if this trend continues on this path. This projection published in the New England Journal of Medicine is concerning because obesity is related to many health conditions including coronary heart disease among others according to Dr. Donald Hensrud who is the director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. This recent study findings are a harbinger of pretty poor American health; the projection says that 49.2% of American adults will be obese, and in every state, no fewer than 35% of adults will have a BMI of at least 30. But it gets worse as the prediction also suggests that as this nation continues to pack on the pounds 1 in 4 Americans will have severe obesity, which is defined as having a BMI of 40 or above.

Many chronic health conditions can be improved with physical activity such as osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and depression. According to the new edition of the U.S Physical Activity Guidelines For Americans any amount of physical activity, even 2 minutes worth at a time, can add up to huge health benefits. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.

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