In this world of modern technology and massive urbanisation, the focus of men has changed from just mere survival to making massive fortunes. The hustling and bustling of everyday life compounded with the advent of better technologies (and making availability of many things at the fingertips) have caused most to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity and health status appear to have a linear relation, where a further increase in physical activity will result in further improvement in health status. Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, bone and joint diseases and also mental illness.
The Malaysia National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 stated that 40% of Malaysians are physically inactive. Therefore, it is not surprising that physical inactivity coupled with abundance of food choices available to Malaysians, that we are ranked first for nations with the highest number of obesity incidence in Asia. 45% of Malaysian are obese, meaning that close to every 1 in 2 Malaysians are obese.
According to WHO, the reasons for physical inactivity are due to insufficient involvement in physical activity during leisure time and increase in sedentary behaviour in daily activities, including during occupational and domestic time. Apart from this, environmental factors resulted from urbanization and modernization may also be the reason to physical inactivity. High density traffic, violence and air pollution are some of the examples that may discourage participation in physical activity.
Despite the doom and gloom, there is a solution. Exercise. Exercise has many benefits. Being physically active not only helps to maintain weight after losing weight, but can also lower the risk of early death, stroke, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and even type 2 diabetes mellitus to name a few. However exercise goes beyond lowering the cardiovascular risk factors as mentioned and evidence has shown that regular physical activity can even lower the risk for depression, dementia, colon cancer, breast cancer and endometrial cancer. The link between the rising incidence of cancer and lack of exercise, in particular has been growing global attention. It has been shown that exercise is able to reduce cancer-related mortality, recurrences and even treatment-related side effects. It has been postulated that exercise may help prevent cancer by inducing the reduction in circulating levels of multiple hormones, especially insulin growth factor, which usually triggers proliferation of cancer cells through its activation. Another proposed mechanism is that exercise works is by inactivating tumour suppressor genes which is the pathophysiology observed in cancer development. This will then inactivate suppression of tumour growth and apoptosis in cancer cells.
Regular physical activity can also improve sleep quality and even improve the cognitive function of the elderly. A systematic review of exercise interventions for elderly people living in nursing homes showed a significant benefit in terms of improvement of well-being and health of individuals with dementia. It showed that exercise had a significant and positive effect on cognition, mood, agitation, mobility and functional ability in these residents. It has been suggested that exercise possesses a neuroprotective effect and attenuate cognitive decline in the elderly by mitigating cerebrovascular risk including the contribution of small vessel disease.
A meta-analysis on exercise in the treatment of depression, showed that physical exercise was an effective intervention in the management of depression, and even suggested that it could be used as an adjunct treatment in combination with antidepressants. Similar results was also seen in a larger scale meta-analysis which suggested that exercise was effective in the improvement of anxiety symptoms or stress-related disorders.
There are a few solutions to combat this menace of physical inactivity. These include:
All is not lost yet in the battle against physical inactivity. Every segment of the society must take a proactive step to promote healthy living, so as to be able to (in the words of Mr. Spock) live a life that is long and prosper.
Date of Input: 29/05/2019 | Updated: 29/05/2019 | h_khairi
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