A great portion of the world population is working in an office which means that they are sitting on a chair in front of a computer at least eight hours a day. Not being physically active during the day can cause many health problems from cardiovascular diseases to diabetes, some types of cancer, high blood pressure and musculoskeletal system disorders.
According to recent research of the World Health Organization (WHO), inadequate physical activity leads to the death of 3.2 million people per year and inactive people have a 20 to 30 percent greater risk of death than physically active people.
Sema Attila, who has a Ph.D. in Medicine from Hacettepe University, said inadequate physical activity is one of the leading risk factors among the causes of death in the world.
"It is predicted that 21 to 25 percent of breast and colon cancers, 27 percent of diabetes and 30 percent of ischemic heart diseases are caused mainly by physical inactivity," she said.
As the recent WHO data suggests, 23 percent of adults older than 18 do not exercise enough. According to the National Turkey Nutrition and Health Survey, 38 percent of men in the 20-30 year old age group in Turkey are inactive or do little activity, while 44 percent of women are in this group.
Moreover, the same study indicates that 67 percent of men and 76 percent of women in Turkey do not exercise at all.
An inactive lifestyle is an important problem not only for the adult age groups but also for the children and adolescence since 81 percent of adolescents aged between 11 and 17 in the world do not exercise enough.
However, a lot can change with small adjustments to your lifestyle.
For those who are working in an office, it is crucial to take a break to stretch your legs. The findings suggest that people who sit a lot should get up and move around every 30 minutes to counter the health risks that come with prolonged sedentary behaviors.Other times, at least 60 minutes of walking, swimming, running at low and high speeds, playing volleyball and basketball every day are reasonable exercises for ages between 5 and 17, while it is suitable for ages 18-64 and over 65 years of age to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.
It is also important for children to play with games that will attract their attention in infancy such as catching and throwing, and they should be allowed to walk, run, climb, and jump in the park and at home after they start to walk.
Attila highlighted that with a physically active life, the amount of muscle strength is increased and protected, the flexibility of joints are maintained and increased, while balance increases, deaths and injuries due to falls are reduced, the bone mineral density rises and the risk of bone loss decrease.
She also added that heart rhythm and blood pressure are regulated, lung capacity is increased, insulin levels and blood sugar control are provided, and the risk of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, coronary heart disease, depression, and certain types of cancer such as colon and lung are reduced.
For a healthy population, safe and accessible parks, facilities, and complexes should be built. Moreover, walking, cycling and other options of active transport should be accessible for everyone.
Schools should also offer safe spaces and facilities to enable students to actively spend their free time, indicating that quality physical education supports the development of behavioral patterns that will keep children physically active throughout their lives.
Recommending everyone to avoid using vehicles unless it is necessary and go outdoors at every opportunity, Attila said that simple physical exercises could also be done sitting at the table, pointing to the importance of selecting these activities in a way to operate all the muscles in the body and doing them regularly and constantly throughout life.
"Being physically inactive at old age is a wrong behavior. Before starting an exercise program, it is imperative to consult a physician and undergo a medical checkup," Attila concluded.