One of the most common reasons people give for not exercising is that they're too busy and don't have enough time. People often make time for the things that they think truly matter in life. Once you see some of the biggest consequences of not exercising, your perspective on the importance of exercise may shift and you may suddenly find yourself wanting to spend more time working out and investing in your future health.
Bite the Dust Too Early
In a 2012 series of studies published in the "Lancet" medical journal, researchers reported that one out of every 10 premature deaths around the planet are caused by not exercising. In other words, not exercising kills almost the same number of people as smoking does, and "Time" magazine went so far as to label the situation as a "global pandemic." Specifically in the United States, the American Heart Association's "Circulation" research journal reports that approximately 250,000 deaths every year are caused by not exercising. To counteract these startling numbers, the journal highlights that many studies linking a lack of exercise to premature death recommend that people exercise three days per week for 30 to 60 minutes each day.
Too Bad, So Sad
In a 2013 study published in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine," researchers reviewed 30 large studies on depression. The researchers found that 25 of those studies confirmed that people who don't exercise have a higher risk of depression. And it's not just depression. If you don't exercise, you may be missing out on the preventative and potentially healing effects of exercise on a wide range of mood disorders. For example, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, exercise may reduce anxiety, increase your self-esteem and effectively treat mild and moderate depression as effectively as psychotherapy.
Achy, Breaky Bones
When it comes to scientifically measuring the rate of aging, some scientists check how well the mitochondria function within cells. Using this as a measurement standard, a study funded by the Arthritis Foundation found that people who don't do any strength training may actually age faster than people who strength train. Similarly, the National Institutes of Health report that weight-bearing exercises can help preserve bone density as you get older while those who don't do these types of exercise may experience a greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures. And finally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that aging adults who don't exercise tend to fall more frequently than adults who exercise. To experience the anti-aging benefits of exercise, the National Institute on Aging recommends doing strength exercises for 30 minutes at least two days a week.
More Sick Days
If you don't exercise, you may have a higher risk of numerous major diseases, warns the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These include heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and high blood pressure. But exercise's benefits aren't just linked to "big" diseases and illnesses. In fact, you may catch the flu or the cold more often if you don't exercise. The National Institutes of Health reports that exercise increases how quickly your white blood cells work, may prevent the growth of various sickness-causing bacteria and may help to flush bacteria out of your body.
- USA Today: Time to Exercise
- Time: Lack of Exercise as Deadly as Smoking, Study Finds Read more: Lack of Exercise Is a Global Pandemic, Researchers Say
- Circulation Journal: Exercise and Cardiovascular Health
- Canadian Mental Health Association: Benefits of Good Mental Health
- Arthritis Foundation: Exercise Reverses Aging in Muscle
- National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus: Osteoporosis
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Strength Training?
- National Institutes of Aging: Exercise & Physical Activity
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Fundamental To Preventing Disease
- National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus: Exercise and Immunity
- Medscape: Even a Little Physical Activity May Prevent Depression