Today's article contains a shocking report from the World Health Organization about how many people around the world lead sedentary lives. It also contains incredibly hopeful news from scientists studying the effects of exercise on aging. Taken together, they paint a vivid picture of how much exercise has to offer- and how few people take advantage of its benefits.
The consequences of neglecting exercise as part of a regular routine of self-care are severe and well established. As Savers know, those consequences also extend to bone health.
We'll begin by examining a study on the fracture risk of a sedentary lifestyle in people over 60 that illustrates the imperative of exercise for maintaining bone health and overall wellness.
More Than A Billion Sedentary Lives
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on the physical activity levels of people across the globe. They utilized data from 358 surveys in 168 countries, including 1.9 million participants to determine how many people are getting adequate levels of exercise.
The WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity every week. That's the minimum they calculate for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of major chronic illnesses.
The researchers at the WHO used the data from the 358 surveys from around the world to extrapolate activity levels for the world's entire population. Based on the survey figures, 1.4 billion people worldwide fail to meet the minimum activity levels for leading a healthy life.1
In spite of efforts to increase public awareness on the importance of exercise, researchers have found no substantial improvement in activity levels since 2001. The data show that the wealthiest countries in the world typically have the lowest activity levels- a fact explained by the prevalence of sedentary desk jobs, effortless transportation, and easy access to high-calorie foods.
Those more than one billion people are at high risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer- marking a significant public health concern. And as the study at the end of today's article will show, a sedentary lifestyle is also a major risk factor for fractures.
A World Health Organization report examined 358 surveys from across the world and concluded that about 1.4 billion people are failing to get the recommended minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This increases the risk of major health problems including heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
Exercise Offers Decades Of Extended Youthfulness
A study out of Ball State University has provided groundbreaking evidence for the power of exercise to maintain cardiovascular and muscular health as we age. Researchers assessed the aerobic capacity and skeletal muscles of three groups of participants: people aged 70 or older who had engaged in regular aerobic exercise since their 20s, a group of the same age with sedentary lifestyles, and a group of active people currently in their twenties.
They tested the aerobic capacity of all the participants and took tissue samples of their muscles to examine the number of capillaries and metabolic enzymes. Remarkably, the muscles of the lifelong exercisers closely resembled those of the young exercisers. The older non-exercisers had muscles with fewer capillaries and enzymes, indicating less capacity and more aging.2
While the exercisers in the 70s had less aerobic capacity than the group in their twneties, they still had markedly more aerobic capacity than their sedentary peers.
The results surprised the researchers, who didn't anticipate that the decades of exercise would have such a profound impact on those participants. Essentially, by engaging in regular exercise over the past 50 years, they prevented or dramatically reduced what is normally considered the aging process in their muscular and cardiovascular systems.
But you don't need to have been running five days a week since 1972 to improve your aerobic capacity and muscle health. Studies have found that beginning an exercise routine has significant health benefits- no matter how old you are when you start.3
Fortunately, it’s never too late! An exercise routine can help you stay young, build bone mass, and reduce your risk of many conditions. If you always find yourself making excuses to avoid exercise, then try the tips in this article for combatting those bad habits:
A study compared the muscles and aerobic capacity of a group of lifelong avid exercisers in their 70s with a group of avid exercisers in their 20s and a group of sedentary people in their 70s. They found that the muscles of the lifelong exercisers closely resembled those of the 20-somethings and didn't show the same age-markers as those in the sedentary group. A life of consistent exercise had inhibited the normal aging process.
The Implications Of Exercise For Bone Health
A sedentary lifestyle comes with dire consequences. On the other hand, exercise helps to create and maintain a stronger and youthful body, improved overall and bone health, improved mobility, and increased independence.
A recently-published study of people over 60 has directly linked physical activity levels with bone strength. The study, published in the Journal of Public Health, evaluated the bone mineral density (BMD) and hip bone geometry of 214 men and women. The participants wore accelerometers (step counters) to measure their activity levels over four days. The researchers found that the participants who spent the most time sedentary had the weakest bones- and conversely, the most active participants had the strongest bones.4
Given that we already know that weight-bearing exercise stimulates the production of new bone mass, these results are no surprise. That's why exercise is an essential component of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
A study of the bone strength and physical activity levels of 214 men and women found that the most sedentary participants had the weakest bones.
Don't Miss Out On The Benefits Of Exercise!
Are you one of the 1.4 billion people on this planet who don't get adequate exercise each week? If so, you have the power to change that statistic, and your own life, for the better.
The Save Institute has developed a bone-targeted exercise program to help you make the transition to an active lifestyle– or to optimize the bone-strengthening potential of your current exercise practice. Densercise™ provides a wide variety of moves so that your workouts stay mentally engaging, and the online video tutorials will ensure that you're making the most of the time you spend working out.
So if you haven’t yet, join the portion of the world's population that is maximizing their wellness and maintaining healthy bones, hearts, and lives.
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