As the world digs in for the second wave of Covid-19, flu season and winter, people also face a serious risk from reduced physical activity — especially older adults. Developing a plan to be physically active now will help you to stay strong and healthy through the long winter ahead.
While most people are aware of the benefits of physical activity — increased muscle and strength, reduced risk of disease, better quality of life and a lower risk of death — we tend to be less aware of how damaging and expensive reduced physical activity can be.
The loss of muscle and strength as you get older, known as sarcopenia, is something with which we are all familiar. We have all heard older family members say, “I’m just not as strong as I used to be,” or “I just can’t do that anymore.” But did you know that inactivity can make muscle loss a whole lot worse?
Physical inactivity can be forced on a person by an acute event such as a broken arm or leg or becoming bed-bound due to illness. However, reduced physical activity such as step reduction is a long-term choice that brings about multiple negative health consequences.
Insulin resistance (a warning sign for the development of type 2 diabetes), reduced muscle mass, increased body fat and poor sleep quality are just some of the health concerns caused by physical inactivity. Physical inactivity is also a major contributor to poor mental health and social isolation, which can be particularly problematic for older adults.