Inactivity can damage mental health, says WHO

Namrata Devikar
Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The study stated that the high income countries are more inactive (37%) as compared to the middle income (26%) and the low income countries (16%).

PUNE: A scientific paper authored by four World Health Organisation (WHO) experts published in the ‘Lancet Global Health’ revealed that one in four adults globally is physically inactive. The study revealed that women (23%) were less active than men (32%).

The study stated that the high income countries are more inactive (37%) as compared to the middle income (26%) and the low income countries (16%). Regular physical inactivity increases the risk of poor health, including cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer and diabetes, falls as well as mental health conditions.

The paper reported data that updated 2008 estimates on levels of activity and, for the first time, reported trend analyses showing that overall, the global level of inactivity in adults remained largely unchanged since 2001.

The report data showed the need for all countries to increase the priority given to national and sub-national actions to provide environments that support physical activity and increase opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, to be active every day.

The report suggests that inactivity also leads to mental health conditions, along with other issues.

Dr Kedar Kulkarni from the Jupiter Hospital said inactivity can lead to a lot of health problems.

“Over the years with increased digital contact, it is seen that there is a rise in problems like obesity, increased cholesterol in blood vessels. Once a person faces obesity, there is an increased chances of diabetes and hypertension. There is also overall increase in the incident rate of these ailments. Heart-related diseases can also increase, if there is inactivity,” said Kulkarni. 

He added that a minimum of three kilometres walk in half an hour is important. “This is the minimum that a person should do daily,” said Kulkarni.

Dr Amit Bhatt, consultant oncologist from the Avinash Cancer Clinic said being overweight or obese is clearly linked with an increased risk of many types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, among women past menopause, colon and rectum, Endometrium, that is lining of the uterus and other type of cancer.

“Colon cancer is one of the most extensively studied cancers in relation to physical activity. A 2009 meta-analysis of 52 epidemiological studies that examined the association between physical activity and colon cancer risk found that the most physically active individuals had a 24 per cent lower risk of colon cancer than those who were the least physically active,” said Dr Bhatt.

He added that many studies show that physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer than inactive women.

“In a 2013 meta-analysis of 31 prospective studies, the average breast cancer risk reduction associated with physical activity was 12 per cent. Moreover, worldwide, scientists are still investigating exactly how physical activity reduces cancer risk, but studies show that regular activity can help keep your hormone levels healthy. This is important as having high levels of some hormones can increase your cancer risk,” said Dr Bhatt.

Nutritionist and dietician Dr Geeta Dharmatti said many of the adults are overfed. “We tend to eat after every four hours. As there is no exercise, this excess energy is not used, which, in turn, puts us in the vicious cycle of feeling tired and lethargic. Hence, diet is also very important in keeping oneself active,” said Dr Dharmatti.

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