You don’t need a degree in sports medicine to know that some consequences of physical inactivity are as plain as the nose on your face. Obesity–both as a child and later as an adult–is one of the primary risks of a sedentary lifestyle. But we now know that there are more long-term reactions the body has to a lack of movement that are lurking just beneath the surface. These consequences are having more far-reaching effects than we realized for our mental and physical well-being.
A Brazilian study showed that people who were not engaged in regular physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic had higher levels of anxiety, stress, and depression than people who maintained regular PE. More recent studies from the World Health Organization confirm that more than 80% of the world’s adolescent population lacks sufficient physical fitness. This means a significant portion of our young people are heading for a mental health crisis, as long-term effects of poor mental health can contribute to:
- Family conflicts
- Lower income than peers
- Absenteeism at school or work
- Increased health-risk behavior
- Legal or financial problems
Much like a car, the body runs well when we take care of it. Regular oil changes and maintenance checkups help ensure that your fluid systems are clean and circulating through the vehicle properly. If we don’t perform regular maintenance those fluids will start to clog and your car’s performance will start to suffer until the vehicle eventually breaks down. When we don’t take care of our bodies with regular exercise, the body starts to degrade and break down the same way. Bodily degradation looks like this:
- A decrease in skeletal muscle mass, as the muscles aren’t being used they send signals to the brain that the muscle isn’t needed, resulting in weakness and atrophy
- Poor blood circulation, increasing the risk of blood clots and leg cramps
- A weakened immune system, as exercise changes antibodies and white blood cell counts
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac disease as insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, is influenced by exercise
It’s Never Too Late
The great news is that our bodies are truly amazing because we can reverse the short and long-term effects of physical inactivity by simply adding physical activity. Even if children who were previously inactive engage in activity now, they can reverse these consequences, and the earlier we can start, the less time it takes. When we create environments that children love, we build a foundation and a positive mindset around an activity that helps ensure children stay active as adults. Creating that environment doesn’t come without its own challenges, however.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us we have to be flexible when it comes to implementing physical activity. The risks of inactivity are clear, proving that now more than ever, we have to prioritize activity as we evolve with the times. From remote classroom settings that forced us to look at how educators offer physical activity online and how we engage with students remotely, to the newest challenges of the “great resignation” as employees leave their positions in search of something new, your physical activity programs should be flexible and offer solutions, without another headache or problem. Skillastics® Specialty Digital Programs were there with you as we partnered together in the remote learning world. They are now offered on-site as clubs and or to help with staff shortages. In addition, as we continue to see staffing shortages as employees and educators shift their roles, Skillastics® Activity Kits offer resources and curriculum - everything you need to provide students a “kick start” of a life-long love of physical activity. Skillastics® makes it simple to plug and play, with innovative activities that can take less than a minute to set up and easy-to-use manuals and curriculum that anyone can use, regardless of experience. Our quick set-up and all-included kit systems ensure even the newest temporary staffer on your team can jump right in, get engaged in high-quality activity faster, and help you start reversing that cycle of inactivity, one exercise at a time.