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NEWS | May 25, 2010

Sedentary lifestyles impact health in adverse ways

By Master Sgt. Angela Fortenberry 844th Communications Group

Many people are overweight in the United States today and suffer health problems because of this. Fast-paced lifestyles and hectic schedules are a few of the excuses for this predicament.

With this issue comes the realization that individuals as well organizations are suffering. The increased workload and doing more with less is taking its toll on many. Some people claim they do not have time or money to live a healthy lifestyle but they will spend more time and money on medical issues if they do not change their ways.

Organizations also suffer when having to deal with employee absenteeism. There is often controversy when discussing making time for a physical activity but everyone needs to weigh the risks involved from neglecting a healthy life style.

Being active does not take much time and it takes little to no money to accomplish. Individuals can do things as simple as taking a walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day or doing leg lifts at their desk. That small amount of time can make a big difference in the way a person feels throughout the day. Putting workouts down on their schedule also makes it easy to incorporate physical activity into the daily routine.

With all that being said, one may ask, what a sedentary lifestyle is. Being sedentary is another way to describe an inactive lifestyle. When you sit around and watch television all day, or you play video games for hours instead of getting up and doing something productive, you are being sedentary. There are even sedentary jobs that keep people from being active. Many kids and even some adults are into video games that do not require them to be mobile. Nintendo is trying to change that with the Wii system. The game requires you to be active to play. It may not be the greatest source of activity but it is better than nothing.

Television has also been a contributing source to physical inactivity for a long time. The number of available shows makes it even more difficult to pull yourself away from the tube. People can even shop on the television. Sometimes it seems like people's lives revolve around television. Televisions are placed in bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, vehicles and even in the work place.

The same thing goes for the internet. Yes, we live in a world that is quickly becoming completely automated, but where does that leave us in terms of being active? There are so many things to do online from shopping, online communities, downloading music, watching movies, attending school, and the list goes on. It is a wonder how anyone gets out of the house to do anything but work. And yet when we go to work we are right back on the computer. Then we have the problem of getting to work or even leaving the house when home from work.

That is also an issue since gas prices have been outrageous. People are not going to be open to going to the fitness center or anywhere else to participate in extracurricular activity when the prices are so high. How many people are going to venture off to the gym during their lunch break? How many people are going to leave the house to go participate in some sort of activity when gas prices are so high? Being sedentary is almost a positive thing when it comes to saving money because of gas.

Just think about the money you will spend when doctor's visits increase and the medication that you have to buy kick in. Some issues that can be attributed to lack of physical activity are heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and stroke. Any or all of these conditions should be enough to deter anyone from being inactive. It would definitely cut down on medical costs and absenteeism.

Even though these are serious risks involved with sedentary lifestyles, often times it is not enough to motivate people to change the way they live. "It won't happen to me" is a phrase many people use to excuse their habits. Some people even try to pretend like they are happy being obese. Are they in fact happy? Are they happy with increased medical risks, medical bills, doctor's visits, other inconveniences? Do people really want to lose their chance for promotion, assignments or even their career?

These are just some examples of things that could happen, but the number one concern is health. No one wants to shorten his or her time on earth due to being sedentary. Obesity is just the beginning of the road to many other problems. It can be eliminated with a little work, a little motivation and a little commitment. The only thing that makes it too late to get started is death. Who is willing to take that risk?