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Why is Physical Activity & Fitness Important?

Physical activity helps keep you in shape so you can enjoy leisure activities and safely perform work and home chores. It offers great mental and social benefits as well. The Lancet released a series of studies that attribute positive outcomes to physical activity, including “a sense of purpose and value, a better quality of life, improved sleep, and reduced stress, as well as stronger relationships and social connectedness.”


On the other hand, lack of physical activity is associated with increased risks of:

  • Anxiety, stress, and feelings of depression

  • Developing many preventable conditions, such as high blood pressure, coronary heart diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and obesity

  • Dying prematurely


The authors of the Lancet Studies even suggest that the sedentary lifestyle so common in our culture is more deadly than smoking. They also believe that 6-10% of the world’s non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer) are caused by physical inactivity. 

What is heart disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is usually caused by atherosclerosis, which occurs when fatty material and plaque build up on the walls of the arteries and cause them to narrow. As the coronary arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart can be partially or completely blocked. This results in a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle, which leads to chest pain. A heart attack results when heart muscle is damaged. CAD can also result in heart failure or sudden cardiac death.


The following factors increase your risk of CAD:

  • Age 50 or older

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • High LDL "bad" cholesterol

  • Low HDL "good" cholesterol

  • Menopause

  • Not getting enough physical activity or exercise

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

  • Higher levels of inflammation-related substances enzymes


However, young adults (age 24-29) with common risk factors, like smoking, obesity, and elevated cholesterol, have a 25 percent risk of having significant narrowing of the coronary arteries. Therefore, all individuals, regardless of age, should follow a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, diet, weight control, and smoking cessation to reduce their risk of heart disease.


What is diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitis is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, which affects how the body is able to use glucose for energy.


In order for cells to use glucose for energy, insulin must be present. In people with diabetes, the pancreas either produces little or no insulin (type 1), or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced (type 2 and gestational diabetes).


Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body in the urine. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel.


The three main types of diabetes are:

  • Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Gestational diabetes (occurs in pregnant women during the pregnancy, but resolves after delivery)


What are recommended lifestyle changes?

Lifestyle changes are critical in diabetes management, and are a routine and expected part of a conventional medical care plan. Some changes include:


  • Healthy, low-fat, high-fiber, nutritious diet, minimizing simple and processed sugars

  • Exercise (ie., Gung Ho Fitness program)

  • Weight loss (if appropriate) or maintenance of a healthy weight

  • Food and Exercise Diary (FATSECRET - Get Connected!)


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