Physical activity is widely accepted as being beneficial to health. There is strong and growing evidence that regular physical activity reduces the risk of suffering from various common disorders. Conversely, physical inactivity can increase the risk of a number of such diseases
Physical activity and some common disorders
1. Coronary heart disease (CHD)
research suggests that approximately 40% of CHD deaths are associated with inadequate physical activity, through obesity, stress and raised blood pressure. Other risk factors (smoking, hypertension
and high cholesterol) are also known to increase risk of CHD. Overall, physically inactive people have nearly twice the risk of developing CHD than active people; persuading sedentary people to take regular light exercise (e.g. walking) could reduce deaths from CHD by 14%.
physical activity helps lower the risk of developing non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes. For instance, it increases insulin sensitivity by as much as 25% so that circulating concentrations of insulin and adrenaline are much lower in a physically active person. There is evidence that physical activity improves blood glucose levels and thus lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
physical activity reduces the risk of stroke, mainly through beneficial effects on hypertension and blood clotting. Inactivity may be responsible for the observed increase in stroke among middle-aged men in the UK. It is estimated that increasing levels of physical activity could reduce the number of strokes by around one quarter.
4. Hypertension/blood lipid levels
regular physical activity can prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure. Physical training programmes can reduce blood pressure in 75% of existing cases of hypertension. Research shows that physical activity can also increase levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein and decrease levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein.
weight-bearing physical activity is essential for normal skeletal development during childhood and adolescence and for achieving and maintaining peak bone mass in young adults. Among older people, it has been suggested that up to half of all hip fractures could be avoided with regular physical activity.
regular physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of certain types of cancer. For instance, the risk of colon cancer is up to three times higher for sedentary people than it is among the most active members of the population. Studies have identified similar relationships between physical activity and other cancers.