Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity (2022)

Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity (1)

  • Measure Physical Activity
  • Promote Physical Activity Through Improved Community Design
  • Help Students Be More Active at School
  • Help Employees Be More Active in the Workplace
  • Help Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk Through Lifestyle Change Programs
  • Help People With Arthritis Reduce Pain and Increase Mobility
  • Help Reduce Risk of High Blood Pressure

Physical activity can improve health now and in the future. People of all ages, races and ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and abilities can benefit from more physical activity. Everyone needs both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Even short periods of physical activity can improve health.

Physical activity:

  • Helps prevent unhealthy weight gain.
  • Reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Helps reduce feelings of anxiety and improves sleep quality.
  • Improves cognitive ability and reduces risk of dementia.
  • Improves bone and musculoskeletal health.

Learn more about the Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Adults and the Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Children.

Not everyone has the same opportunity to be physically active. Many people live in neighborhoods with poor sidewalk and street infrastructure, few safe spaces for physical activity, and few destinations (including transit stops) within walking or biking distance from their home. Creating activity-friendly communities can provide safe and convenient places for people to be active. It can also support local economies by increasing retail activity and employment.

When communities are developed or redesigned to promote physical activity, community members should be involved in the planning and decision-making process. It is especially important to include people who have been left out in the past, such as members of racial and ethnic minority groups, older adults, and people with disabilities.

CDC aims to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027 through Active People, Healthy Nation, a comprehensive initiative to promote physical activity based on strategies recommended by the Guide to Community Preventive Services.

In the United States:

Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity (2)

ABOUT 1 IN 2
ADULTS

don’t get enough
aerobic physical activity.

(Video) Physical Inactivity and Chronic Diseases (Jaume Padilla, PhD)

Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity (3)

77% OF
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

don’t get enough
aerobic physical activity.

Heart Disease

Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease—even for people who have no other risk factors. It can also increase the likelihood of developing other heart disease risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Not getting enough physical activity can raise a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps control blood sugar (glucose), weight, and blood pressure and helps raise “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol. Adequate physical activity can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and nerve damage, which are often problems for people with diabetes.

Cancer

Getting the recommended amount of physical activity can lower the risk of many cancers, including cancers of the breast, colon, and uterus. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or current fitness level.

(Video) Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Prevention

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Physical activity is one of the best things people can do for their health. ThePhysical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Editionpresents new findings on the benefits of regular physical activity, which include:

  • Improved sleep.
  • Increased ability to perform everyday activities.
  • Improved cognitive ability and a reduced risk of dementia.
  • Improved bone and musculoskeletal health.

Emerging research also suggests that physical activity may help our immune systems protect our bodies from infection and disease.

CDC’s Work to Increase Physical Activity

Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity (5)

CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity uses data from national and state surveysto track levels of physical activity among adolescents and adults. Data are used to assess trends in physical activity, understand differences in populations, and help identify priority action areas.

CDC also works with partners to measure community supportsfor physical activity. These supports include policies and design approaches that enable safe and convenient walking, biking, wheelchair rolling, and public transportation options for people of all ages, abilities, and physical activity levels. For example, CDC measures how many communities have Complete Streets policies that are designed to improve the safety of streets for all modes of transportation. CDC also measures how many people have shops, stores, or markets near their homes and the land use policies that help make these everyday destinations more convenient.

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Many people want to get regular physical activity but live in communities that lack safe, convenient places to be active. CDC funds states, communities, and national organizations to create activity-friendly routes to everyday destinationsthat connect people from where they live to where they need to go.

(Video) Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Prevention

These efforts include:

  • Making active transportation more feasible and attractive through land use and zoning policies that allow schools, workplaces, shops, and parks to be located closer to people’s homes.
  • Supporting Safe Routes programs that help students walk, bike, or wheelchair roll to school and older adults reach their destination without driving a car.
  • Implementing Complete Streets policies to make streets safe for people of all ages and abilities to walk, bike, wheelchair roll, or take public transit.
  • Supporting transportation planning that connects active transportation and public transit planning.

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Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity (6)

Schools are in a unique position to help students get their recommended 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity. CDC Healthy Schools works with states, school systems, communities, and national partners to promote strong physical education and physical activity programs as part of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model.

CDC funds state departments of education and provides specialized tools, recommendations, and resources to help them work with local school districts and schools. The impact and reach of the school health programs developed are shared in success stories and videos.

CDC also publishes guidance for schools and parents to develop a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program including recess, physical education, classroom physical activity, and staff involvement, as well as ways to increase physical activity before, during, and after school.

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CDC’sWorkplace Health Promotion Programworks with employers and other partners to encourage physical activity in the workplace as part of CDC’sWorkplace Health Model. CDC focuses its efforts on small and midsize employers because 99% of US employers have fewer than 500 employees. Many employers this size lack the expertise and resources to develop effective public health programs.

CDC also encourages employers to help make physical activity an easier choice for their workers. For example, they can provide on-site walking paths, discounts for local gyms, or subsidies for active commuting options. They can also support efforts to create more safe and accessible options for physical activity in the surrounding community.

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Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity (7)

(Video) Physical activity to prevent chronic disease

In the United States, 88 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes, and more than 8 in 10 of them don’t know they have it. The leading preventable risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are being overweight and not getting enough physical activity. CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is a partnership of public and private organizations working to build a nationwide delivery system for a lifestyle change program proven to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in adults with prediabetes.

Participants in the National DPP lifestyle change program learn to make healthy food choices, be more physically active, and cope with stress. These changes can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% (71% for those over 60).

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People with arthritis who take part in “joint-friendly” physical activity can reduce their arthritis pain and improve their function, mood, and quality of life. Examples of joint-friendly activities include walking, biking, and swimming. Being physically active can also delay arthritis disability.

Funding from CDC’s Arthritis Programallows partners to offer the following physical activity programs:

  • Active Living Everydayfocuses on helping people who are sedentary become and stay physically active. About 20 people come together for 1-hour weekly sessions for 12 to 20 weeks of education and discussion to learn how to become more physically active.
  • EnhanceFitnessworks to increase strength, boost activity levels, and elevate mood. Certified instructors focus on stretching, flexibility, balance, low-impact aerobics, and strength training exercises.
  • Fit & Strong! focuses on sedentary older adults with lower-extremity joint pain and stiffness. It offers stretching, balance, aerobic, and endurance exercises.
  • Walk with Easeis a community-based walking program that meets three times a week for 6 weeks. Trained group exercise leaders begin each session with a pre-walk discussion covering a topic related to exercise and arthritis, followed by a 10- to 40-minute walk that includes a warm-up and cool-down period.

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Nearly 1 in 2 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, which raises a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Physical inactivity is one of the leading preventable risk factors for high blood pressure.

Million Hearts® 2022 is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes within 5 years. It focuses on a small set of priorities and targets that can improve cardiovascular health for all.

One of these targets is to reduce physical inactivity by using proven strategies where people live, learn, work, and play. These strategies include providing behavioral counseling for adults with cardiovascular risk factors and creating safe community spaces that encourage activity.

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Page last reviewed: June 7, 2022

Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

(Video) I-Min Lee Lecture “Physical Activity: Wonder Drug for Chronic Disease Prevention”

FAQs

How does physical inactivity contribute to chronic disease? ›

Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease—even for people who have no other risk factors. It can also increase the likelihood of developing other heart disease risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

How much exercise should someone with a chronic condition get? ›

Adults with chronic health conditions or disabilities who are able should: Get at least 150 minutes (for example, 30 minutes 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week.

What are 4 possible negative effects of physical inactivity? ›

Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety.

Is physical inactivity a risk factor for disease? ›

What health risks are linked to physical inactivity? Lack of physical activity has clearly been shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other conditions: Less active and less fit people have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Physical activity can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.

How does an inactive lifestyle affect your body? ›

By not getting regular exercise, you raise your risk of: Obesity. Heart diseases, including coronary artery disease and heart attack. High blood pressure.

What happens if you don't exercise for a month? ›

They will become smaller and weaker. If you've been doing high intensity exercise or weight training, you'll find a reduction in your muscular endurance. A detraining period of 12 weeks results in decreased muscle mass and muscular strength, although the muscles can return to pretraining levels.

How much physical activity is enough? ›

Each week adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity, according to the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

What is the minimum exercise per day? ›

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is important, too. The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of metabolic problems.

How do you get in shape with a chronic illness? ›

Here are four tips to help you get started with exercise when you have a chronic disease:
  1. Walk, don't run. Even when you have a serious health condition it's best to get up off the couch and start moving if you can. ...
  2. Choose low-impact aerobic exercises. ...
  3. Start slow. ...
  4. Use resistance bands.
7 Mar 2017

How many hours is considered sedentary? ›

Being sedentary is not the same as not getting enough physical activity. Even if you are doing enough physical activity, sitting for more than 7 to 10 hours a day is bad for your health.

What is the main cause of an inactive lifestyle? ›

Causes of Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Lifestyles

Some environmental factors include traffic congestion, air pollution, shortage of parks or pedestrian walkways, and a lack of sports or leisure facilities [1].

What happens when you don't exercise for a day? ›

Your muscles weaken and lose bulk including the muscles you need for breathing and the large muscles in your legs and arms. You will become more breathless as you do less activity. If you continue to be inactive you will feel worse, need more help and eventually even simple daily tasks will be difficult.

How do you control physical inactivity? ›

How can we reduce physical inactivity at home and at work?
  1. Park far away from buildings.
  2. Use a standing or walking desk.
  3. Take a brisk walk after lunch.
  4. Stand during phone calls.
  5. Drink enough water that you use the restroom often.
  6. Play pool, go for a walk or play lawn games instead of watching TV.
27 May 2020

How lack of exercise affects the heart? ›

How does physical inactivity increase the risk of heart and circulatory diseases? Being inactive can lead to fatty material building up in your arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood to your organs). If the arteries that carry blood to your heart get damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack.

Why Physical inactivity is the leading risk factor of death worldwide? ›

Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and death worldwide. It increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes by 20–30%. It is estimated that four to five million deaths per year could be averted if the global population was more active.

What are two major problems of inactivity? ›

Not doing enough physical activity doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity, and increases the risk of breast and bowel cancer, depression and anxiety.

How many steps is considered sedentary? ›

Sedentary is less than 5,000 steps per day. Low active is 5,000 to 7,499 steps per day. Somewhat active is 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. Active is more than 10,000 steps per day.

Does inactivity cause low blood pressure? ›

Lack of activity can also cause a condition called orthostatic hypotension, or low blood pressure with changes in body position.

Is walking enough exercise? ›

But is walking good enough exercise? The short answer is yes. “Walking is just as good as any other form of exercise,” says University Hospitals pediatric sports medicine specialist Laura Goldberg, MD. “The guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week.

Does walking count as exercise? ›

Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier. You do not have to walk for hours.

Can I be healthy without exercising? ›

Adults need at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week to stay healthy. If you want to be healthy while avoiding exercise, the best solution is to find ways to be more active in your daily routine. You can also incorporate more active hobbies into your downtime to get yourself moving.

Is 20 minutes of exercise a day enough? ›

Yes, 20 minutes of exercise is better than nothing. Any and every bout of physical activity/exercise contributes to a fitter, healthier - and, very likely, happier - you!

Is 15 minutes of exercise a day enough to stay healthy? ›

The key is to do enough and to do it often enough. For health, doctors should "prescribe" at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise or 15 minutes of intense exercise a day.

Should you exercise everyday or take a day off? ›

It's recommended to take a rest day every three to five days. If you do vigorous cardio, you'll want to take more frequent rest days. You can also have an active rest day by doing a light workout, like gentle stretching. To determine when you should rest, consider the recommendations for aerobic activity.

When is the best time to exercise? ›

“Exercising at 7 a.m. or between 1 and 4 p.m. helps your circadian clock to 'fall back' in time, making it easier to wake up earlier,” Heisz says. If you need to train your body to wake up later in the morning, try working out between 7 and 10 p.m. “The best time to exercise is when you can fit it in,” Arciero says.

Is it enough to workout 10 minutes a day? ›

Researchers say adding just 10 minutes of exercise a day can provide significant health benefits. Experts say exercise is more important as a person gets older because it can slow down the effects of aging. They say you should pick a type of exercise that best fits your schedule.

What happens if you exercise every day? ›

Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.

Is exercise good for chronic illness? ›

Regular physical activity helps improve your overall health, fitness, and quality of life. It also helps reduce your risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, depression and anxiety, and dementia.

How can I exercise with chronic fatigue? ›

Reclined or recumbent exercises are generally a good place to start for someone with chronic fatigue,” says Melissa Williams, an integrative physiotherapist. Floor-based strength exercises can counteract the de-conditioning of muscles that occurs when individuals go through prolonged periods without exercise.

Is exercise good for chronic pain? ›

Exercise is a common treatment for chronic pain. Depending on your current state of health, it may help decrease inflammation, increase mobility, and decrease overall pain levels, no additional medication required.

How long is it OK to sit in a day? ›

LOW risk indicates sitting less than 4 hours per day. MEDIUM risk indicates sitting 4 to 8 hours per day. HIGH risk indicates sitting 8 to 11 hours per day. VERY HIGH risk indicates sitting more than 11 hours per day.

How often should you move when sitting? ›

Get up and move for one to five minutes every half hour to break up sitting time and reduce your health risks of sitting. It's a good idea to prepare mentally and physically by dressing for activity.

How often should you get up when sitting? ›

Get up every 30 minutes to cut your risk of death. Research has warned time and time again that “sitting disease” is real. But if you're sitting all day at work, you should get up every 30 minutes and move to cut your risk of death, a new study is advising.

What is considered little to no exercise? ›

Unless you do at least 30 minutes per day of intentional exercise, you are considered sedentary. If you're Low Active, your daily activities include: Activities of daily living, such as shopping, cleaning, watering plants, taking out the trash, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, and gardening.

Why do people not exercise? ›

The most common reasons why people start and stop an exercise program are well documented: 1) a perceived lack of time, 2) exercise-related injuries, and 3) exercise is not fun (which often is due to starting at an exercise intensity that is too high for their fitness level).

What diseases issues are associated with too much exercise? ›

9 adverse health effects of too much exercise
  • Physical 'burnout'
  • Adverse health effects linked to OTS.
  • Hormonal dysfunction. Overtraining exerts a negative effect on the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. ...
  • Anorexia. ...
  • Rhabdomyolysis. ...
  • Impaired metabolism. ...
  • Poor immunity. ...
  • Increased cardiovascular stress.
17 Aug 2020

Is sleep more important than exercise? ›

“Exercise can improve deep sleep, and sleeping better enhances the ability to exercise the next day.” Because both are so critical for optimum health, medical experts hesitate to say one is more important than the other.

Can you live without exercise? ›

What's surprising is that sometimes doing nothing at all—not moving a muscle—can be just as life-threatening. Not exercising, or even not getting physical activity, is a confirmed risk factor of premature death.

Should I exercise if I am tired? ›

You're sleep deprived

Exercising when you're running on empty also increases your risk of injury. So if you're exhausted, the best thing you can do for your body is to get a good night of rest and get back in the gym the next day.

Which behavior is most likely to lead to the development of a chronic disease? ›

Poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and tobacco use are 3 behaviors that contribute to develop- ment and severity of 4 chronic diseases that cause more than 50% of the deaths of all Vermonters.

What is the meaning of physical inactivity? ›

What does the term physical inactivity mean? Physical inactivity is a term used to identify people who do not get the recommended level of regular physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times peer week to promote cardiovascular fitness.

What is the minimum amount of physical activity needed to reduce the risk of chronic disease? ›

Adults aged 18–64 years

may increase moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to more than 300 minutes; or do more than 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week for additional health benefits.

What is a short term consequence of a sedentary lifestyle? ›

Short-Term Health Effects

Fewer calories burned which can lead to weight gain. Slowed metabolism. Poorer blood circulation. Muscle tension and knots. Feelings of restlessness, anxiety or depression.

What are 5 behaviors that could prevent someone from getting a chronic disease? ›

Five key health-related behaviors for chronic disease prevention are never smoking, getting regular physical activity, consuming no alcohol or only moderate amounts, maintaining a normal body weight, and obtaining daily sufficient sleep.

What are the four key behaviors that increase the likelihood of chronic disease? ›

Six key risk behaviors have been identified as increasing the risk of chronic disease, including smoking, alcohol use, physical inactivity, poor diet, sedentary behavior (e.g., recreational screen time), and poor sleep [3].

How do emotions cause chronic illness? ›

“In states of chronic or severe stress, the nervous system often 'recruits' other bodily systems, like the immune system or digestive system, which can result in pain,” says Matuszewich. “Theoretically, if we don't move out of this state, chronic stress could result in chronic pain.”

How do you control physical inactivity? ›

Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, take the stairs, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.

What are the examples of physical inactivity? ›

Physical inactivity or being sedentary is when you don't move your body for long periods of time. This can include sitting or lying on the sofa watching TV, and sitting at a desk or computer. Being physically active doesn't mean you need to join a gym or run a marathon.

What are the causes of physical inactivity? ›

Causes of Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Lifestyles

A poor participation in physical activity is speculated to be influenced by multiple factors. Some environmental factors include traffic congestion, air pollution, shortage of parks or pedestrian walkways, and a lack of sports or leisure facilities [1].

How much physical activity is enough? ›

Each week adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity, according to the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Which chronic disease do you believe is most preventable by exercise? ›

High cholesterol

Many people are able to lower their cholesterol without drugs simply by adopting an exercise routine and making other lifestyle changes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How does physical activity improve health? ›

Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.

What are two major problems of inactivity? ›

Not doing enough physical activity doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity, and increases the risk of breast and bowel cancer, depression and anxiety.

How many hours is considered sedentary? ›

Being sedentary is not the same as not getting enough physical activity. Even if you are doing enough physical activity, sitting for more than 7 to 10 hours a day is bad for your health.

What is considered little to no exercise? ›

Unless you do at least 30 minutes per day of intentional exercise, you are considered sedentary. If you're Low Active, your daily activities include: Activities of daily living, such as shopping, cleaning, watering plants, taking out the trash, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, and gardening.

Videos

1. CHRONIC DISEASE – PRESCRIBING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IN A FEW EASY STEPS
(Western Victoria PHN LEARN)
2. KIN456A Week 2 Unit 1-Physical Activity, Health, and Chronic Disease
(Brian Blackburn)
3. The Impact of Chronic Pain - Focus: Physical Activity
(AboutKidsHealth)
4. ⚠️Fighting Against Physical Inactivity⚠️
(Athletics Ireland TV)
5. Chronic Disease Prevention Webcast Series: Nutrition and Model Vending Standards
(NACCHO)
6. The physical activity transition
(The Physiological Society)

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