Category: Be Active
India is experiencing a rapid health transition, with large and rising burdens of chronic diseases, which are estimated to account for 53% of all deaths and 44% of disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) lost in 2005.
Earlier estimates, from the Global Burden of Disease Study, projected that the number of deathsattributable to chronic diseases would rise from 3·78 million in 1990 (40·4% of all deaths) to 7·63 million in 2020 (66·7% of all deaths).
Many of these deaths occur at relatively early ages. Compared with all other countries, India suffers the highest loss in potentially productive years of life, due to deaths from cardiovascular disease in people aged 35–64 years (9·2 million years lost in 2000). By 2030, this loss is expected to rise to 17·9 million years—940% greater than the corresponding loss in the USA, which has a population a third the size of India’s.
Physical inactivity is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular and other diseases. Interventions using physical activity can help to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and symptoms of depression. Such interventions can also improve quality of life, which is an important predictor of physical functioning among older age groups.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease, such as angina or a heart attack, is much reduced if you are regularly physically active. Inactive people have almost double the risk of having a heart attack compared with those who are regularly physically active.
If you already have heart disease, regular physical activity is usually advised as an important way to help prevent your heart disease from getting worse. Special rehabilitation physical activity programmes exist if you have had a heart attack or have another heart problem. These are supervised by physical activity specialists who can help you do physical activity safely.
Physically active people are less likely to have a stroke. One study found that women aged 45 and older who walk briskly (at least three miles per hour), or who walk for more than two hours a week, reduce their risk of stroke by a third compared with less active women.
Regular physical activity has been shown to raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This is good cholesterol because it may actually help to protect against cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease). HDL cholesterol seems to help prevent patches of atheroma forming. These are like small fatty lumps that develop within the inside lining of arteries (blood vessels) and are involved in the development of cardiovascular disease.
Regular physical activity can help to lower your blood pressure levels if you have high blood pressure. It can also help to prevent high blood pressure from developing. High blood pressure is one of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
If you are regularly physically active then you have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than inactive people. The greater the amount of physical activity that you do, the lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance (prediabetes), regular physical activity can help to prevent this from developing into diabetes. Also, if you already have type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity can help improve the control of your diabetes.
Physical activity helps you to burn off excess fat. Regular physical activity combined with a healthy diet is the best way of losing weight, and keeping that weight off.
Regular weight-bearing physical activity can also help to prevent osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). The pulling and tugging on your bones by your muscles during exercise stimulates bone-making cells, which strengthens your bones. If your bones are stronger, you have a reduced risk of breaking your bones when you are older. (Weight-bearing physical activity means physical activity where your feet and legs bear your body's weight, such as brisk walking, aerobics, dancing, running, etc.)
Physical activity has also been shown to help treat osteoarthritis and lower back pain in some people.
Regular physical activity can help to reduce your chance of developing cancer. It roughly halves your chance of developing cancer of the colon (bowel cancer). Breast cancer is also less common in women who are regularly physically active.