Following a sedentary lifestyle is more dangerous for your health than smoking, says a new study reported in the South China Morning Post, and carried out by the University of Hong Kong and the Department of Health. In the study, researchers looked at the level of physical activity in people who died and were able to correlate their level of physical activity with their risk of dying.
The results are fascinating: 20% of all deaths of people 35 and older were attributed to a lack of physical activity. That's more deaths than can be attributed to smoking. Looking at specific diseases, the risk of dying from cancer increased 45% for men and 28% for women due to lack of physical activity. The risk of dying from respiratory ailments was 92% higher for men and 75% higher for women. The risk of dying from heart disease was 52% higher for men and 28% higher for women, all due to a lack of physical activity. It turns out that being a couch potato can kill you, literally.
This is really no surprise to naturopathic physicians, holistic healers, holistic nutritionists, and other people in the natural healing fields: physical activity is absolutely critical for the health of the human body. In fact, it's fair to say that the human body was designed to be used. There are a lot of misleading metaphors in modern medicine that compare the human body to an automobile. These metaphors propose the idea that the body wears out with use. People say their knee joints have worn out, for example, and that's why they have knee pain. But I have news for you on this: joints don't "wear out" like car parts, and the human body actually gets healthier with use -- unlike your automobile.
In fact, the more you use your body, the healthier it gets -- up to a point of course; you don't want to overexert yourself and cause injury, but very few people run the risk of actually doing too much exercise in modern society. Sadly, in today's world, a lot of people just sit around. They spend endless hour watching TV, and they hold jobs that require them to sit behind a desk for 8 or 9 or 10 hours a day engaging in virtually no physical movement at all. As a result, they are being diagnosed with chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory ailments -- all related to a lack of regular physical exercise.
These diseases can be prevented and even frequently reversed through physical exercise alone. Looking at why physical exercise makes individuals so much healthier gives us an interesting perspective on how the human body really works. The human body is designed to move around. And by moving the muscles, ligaments and limbs, you actually massage the tissues and organs of the body, bringing them oxygen and enhancing their flexibility. You also move lymph fluid around the body, and lymph must be moved through physical activity alone since there is no "lymph heart" to circulate lymph fluid regardless of your physical activity like there is with your cardiovascular system. (In other words, your heart pumps your blood even if you're sitting in a chair. But there's nothing to pump your lymph fluid other than sloshing your body around through regular movement.)
Physical activity gets everything moving in your body -- the blood, the oxygen, the nutrients, the cellular respiration, the nervous system, and so on. Sweating is good for you as well -- you sweat out toxins and replace the lost liquids by drinking fresh, clean water. Physical exercise, if done outside, also exposes you to the healing effects of natural sunlight, an essential nutrient for the human body that is deficient in most people. Getting enough sunlight on your skin can prevent and even reverse an astounding number of chronic diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, osteoporosis and more.
If you put all of this together, you see that physical exercise is extremely beneficial to the human body, and in fact the body won't live nearly as long without it. Studies also show that it doesn't take an enormous amount of physical exercise to achieve health-enhancing results. A mere 30 minutes a day of walking, swimming, jogging, cycling or other cardiovascular exercise can have astounding positive health effects.
But exercising seems to remain a low priority for many. People ask, how can I avoid all of these diseases without actually having to do the exercises? Is there a way that I can get the benefits of this physical exercise without having to move my body? And the answer to that is simply, no. You have to actually do it if you want to get the benefits from it. No one can do it for you, no prescription drugs can give you the same effects, no surgical procedure can create the health that your body would create on its own when you engage in regular physical exercise. This is something you must pursue on your own if you desire to experience the positive health results it offers.