It isn’t that we were unaware of risks of leading a sedentary lifestyle before COVID-19 pandemic entered our lives. Yet we did not consider it as an immediate threat to our survival. Several studies over decades warned us how lack of physical activity could increase risk of heart diseases and conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure etc . However, in the context of COVID-19, it has emerged that sedentary lifestyle not only increases people’s risk of landing in ICU but also adversely affects their survival rate if compared to those leading active lifestyle. Recent studies, one published in British Journal of Sports Medicine and another finding from the University of California San Diego reveal how COVID-19 patients who were largely inactive before pandemic were more likely to be admitted to hospital, even in ICU, and more likely to die if compared with people who met physical activity guidelines.
What is Sedentary Lifestyle?
A sedentary lifestyle is basically a type of lifestyle where a person does not receive regular amounts of physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough activity. It makes physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.
What Makes Sedentary Lifestyle A Killer in COVID Patients
Physical inactivity over the time leads to many lifestyle diseases which ultimately increases a person’s chances of succumbing to a disease like COVID-19. For example, it doubles the risk of heart diseases. Not getting enough physical activity for extended time also means that you will gain weight and become obese which is again a reason why people suffer from various deadly diseases.
“Physical inactivity is the strongest risk factor across all outcomes. Usually, it increases death rate among patients. It doubles the risk of cardiovascular diseases – heart attack, diseases related to blood vessels, diabetes mellitus that are nowadays quite common among people who are having sedentary lifestyle. In fact, Obesity is the most important morbid condition of all. People who are inactive are also at increased risk of colonic cancers (large intestine cancers),” says Dr. Srinivasulu Reddy, Professor and Head of Department, Clinical Microbiology, Narayan Medical College, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh.
“Sedentary lifestyle is the worst part in our lifestyle. It is the triggering point of many of the diseases and bad prognosis (the likely course of a medical condition) of the disease that we already have,” adds Dr Reddy, a specialist on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Some of the most common conditions associated with Sedentary Lifestyle according to Dr. Reddy are
1# High Blood Pressure: It is called silent killer and rightly so. People don’t realise how deadly it can be till late.
2# Osteoporosis Among Females: It happens because of lack of calcium. There is joint brittleness that leads to join fractures in many people. All this is more common among females, especially housewives because of their sedentary lifestyle at times.
3# Lipid Disorders: The lipid content in the blood is the predisposing factor for heart attack.
4# Depression and Anxiety: Depression or any other psychological disorder alters the hormone levels because of which the immunity of the body comes down. When the body’s resistance power is reduced, the virus starts multiplying and people enter the stage of severe COVID infection.
5# Obesity affects the outcome in patients and it could be very deadly in case of COVID-19
How to Keep Lifestyle Diseases At Bay While Staying At Home
WHO recommends practices to be followed for good health. Take a look:
- 150 minutes of moderate physical activity throughout the week for adults, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week
- Moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent
- For developing and maintaining musculoskeletal health, muscle-strengthening activities involving major muscle groups should be done on 2 or more days a week
- Older adults with poor mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week
- All children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity. This should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 days per week
- Doing more than 60 minutes of physical activity daily will provide additional health benefits
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