Health Topics

Wellness and lifestyle

Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle
National Library of Medicine
Sedentary Lifestyle
Sitting Disease
What is an inactive lifestyle?

Being a couch potato. Not exercising. A sedentary or inactive lifestyle. You have probably heard of all of these phrases, and they mean the same thing: a lifestyle with a lot of sitting and lying down, with very little to no exercise.

In the United States and around the world, people are spending more and more time doing sedentary activities. During our leisure time, we are often sitting: while using a computer or other device, watching TV, or playing video games. Many of our jobs have become more sedentary, with long days sitting at a desk. And the way most of us get around involves sitting - in cars, on buses, and on trains.

How does an inactive lifestyle affect your body?

When you have an inactive lifestyle,

  • You burn fewer calories. This makes you more likely to gain weight.
  • You may lose muscle strength and endurance, because you are not using your muscles as much
  • Your bones may get weaker and lose some mineral content
  • Your metabolism may be affected, and your body may have more trouble breaking down fats and sugars
  • Your immune system may not work as well
  • You may have poorer blood circulation
  • Your body may have more inflammation
  • You may develop a hormonal imbalance
What are the health risks of an inactive lifestyle?

Having an inactive lifestyle can be one of the causes of many chronic diseases. By not getting regular exercise, you raise your risk of

  • Obesity
  • Heart diseases, including coronary artery disease and heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain cancers, including colon, breast, and uterine cancers
  • Osteoporosis and falls
  • Increased feelings of depression and anxiety

Having a sedentary lifestyle can also raise your risk of premature death. And the more sedentary you are, the higher your health risks are.

How can I get started with exercise?

If you have been inactive, you may need to start slowly. You can keep adding more exercise gradually. The more you can do, the better. But try not to feel overwhelmed, and do what you can. Getting some exercise is always better than getting none. Eventually, your goal can be to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age and health.

There are many different ways to get exercise; it is important to find the types that are best for you. You can also try to add activity to your life in smaller ways, such as at home and at work.

How can I be more active around the house?

There are some ways you can be active around your house:

  • Housework, gardening, and yard work are all physical work. To increase the intensity, you could try doing them at a more vigorous pace.
  • Keep moving while you watch TV. Lift hand weights, do some gentle yoga stretches, or pedal an exercise bike. Instead of using the TV remote, get up and change the channels yourself.
  • Work out at home with a workout video (on your TV or on the internet)
  • Go for a walk in your neighborhood. It can be more fun if you walk your dog, walk your kids to school, or walk with a friend.
  • Stand up when talking on the phone
  • Get some exercise equipment for your home. Treadmills and elliptical trainers are great, but not everyone has the money or space for one. Less expensive equipment such as yoga balls, exercise mats, stretch bands, and hand weights can help you get a workout at home too.
How can I be more active at work?

Most of us sit when we are working, often in front of a computer. In fact, less than 20 percent of Americans have physically active jobs. It can be challenging to fit physical activity into your busy workday, but here are some tips to help you get moving:

  • Get up from your chair and move around at least once an hour
  • Stand when you are talking on the phone
  • Find out whether your company can get you a stand-up or treadmill desk
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Use your break or part of your lunch hour to walk around the building
  • Stand up and walk to a colleague's office instead of sending an email
  • Have "walking" or standing meetings with co-workers instead of sitting in a conference room

Sedentary Behavior
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
... may develop a hormonal imbalance What are the health risks of an inactive lifestyle? Having an inactive lifestyle can be one of ... feelings of depression and anxiety Having a sedentary lifestyle can also raise ... you are, the higher your health risks are.How can I get started with ...
Healthy Living
National Library of Medicine
Prevention
Staying Healthy

Many factors affect your health. Some you cannot control, such as your genetic makeup or your age. But you can make changes to your lifestyle. By taking steps toward healthy living, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and other serious diseases:

  • Get the screening tests you need
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods, and limit calories and saturated fat
  • Be physically active
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Don't smoke
  • Protect yourself from too much sun
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, or don't drink at all
  • Get enough sleep every day

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality


Healthy Lifestyle
Wellness and Lifestyle
Many factors affect your health. Some you cannot control, such as your genetic makeup or your age. But you can make changes to your lifestyle. By taking steps toward healthy living, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and other serious ...
Health Literacy
National Library of Medicine

Health literacy refers to how well a person can get the health information and services that they need, and how well they understand them. It is also about using them to make good health decisions. It involves differences that people have in areas such as

  • Access to information that they can understand
  • Skills, such as finding that information, communicating with health care providers, living a healthy lifestyle, and managing a disease
  • Knowledge of medical words, and of how their health care system works
  • Abilities, such as physical or mental limitations
  • Personal factors, such as age, education, language abilities, and culture

More than 90 million adults in the United States have low health literacy. It affects their ability to make health decisions. This can harm their health. They may have trouble managing chronic diseases, and leading a healthy lifestyle. They may go to the hospital more often, and have poorer health overall.

NIH: National Institutes of Health


Health Literacy
Wellness and Lifestyle
Personal Health Issues
... Skills, such as finding that information, communicating with health care providers, living a healthy lifestyle, and managing a disease Knowledge of medical words, ...
Health Checkup
National Library of Medicine
Annual Physical Examination
Annual checkup
Routine physical examination

Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Which exams and screenings you need depends on your age, health and family history, and lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke.

To make the most of your next check-up, here are some things to do before you go:

  • Review your family health history
  • Find out if you are due for any general screenings or vaccinations
  • Write down a list of issues and questions to take with you

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Physical Examination
Wellness and Lifestyle
... and screenings you need depends on your age, health and family history, and lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke. To make the most of your next check-up, here ... you go: Review your family health history Find out if you are due for ...
Evaluating Health Information
National Library of Medicine

Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you tell the good from the bad?

First, consider the source. If you use the Web, look for an "about us" page. Check to see who runs the site: Is it a branch of the government, a university, a health organization, a hospital or a business? Focus on quality. Does the site have an editorial board? Is the information reviewed before it is posted? Be skeptical. Things that sound too good to be true often are. You want current, unbiased information based on research.

NIH: National Library of Medicine


Internet
Wellness and Lifestyle
Personal Health Issues
Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you ...
Sexual Health
National Library of Medicine
Sex

Sexuality is a big part of being human. Love, affection and sexual intimacy all play a role in healthy relationships. They also contribute to your sense of well-being. A number of disorders can affect the ability to have or enjoy sex in both men and women.

Factors that can affect sexual health include

  • Fear of unplanned pregnancy
  • Concerns about infertility
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease
  • Medicines that affect sexual desire or performance

Sexual Health
Women
Men
Wellness and Lifestyle
Sexual Health Issues
Female Reproductive System
Male Reproductive System
Sexuality is a big part of being human. Love, affection and sexual intimacy all play a role in healthy relationships. They also contribute to your sense of well- ...
Family History
National Library of Medicine

Your family history includes health information about you and your close relatives. Families have many factors in common, including their genes, environment, and lifestyle. Looking at these factors can help you figure out whether you have a higher risk for certain health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Having a family member with a disease raises your risk, but it does not mean that you will definitely get it. Knowing that you are at risk gives you a chance to reduce that risk by following a healthier lifestyle and getting tested as needed.

You can get started by talking to your relatives about their health. Draw a family tree and add the health information. Having copies of medical records and death certificates is also helpful.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Medical History Taking
Genetics/Birth Defects
Wellness and Lifestyle
Your family history includes health information about you and your close relatives. Families have many factors in common, including their genes, environment, and lifestyle. Looking at these factors can help you figure out whether you have a higher risk for certain health problems, such ...
Dental Health
National Library of Medicine
Oral Health

It's important to take care of your mouth and teeth starting in childhood. If you don't, you could have problems with your teeth and gums - like cavities or even tooth loss.

Here's how to keep your mouth and teeth healthy:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner
  • Snack smart - limit sugary snacks
  • Don't smoke or chew tobacco
  • See your dentist or oral health professional regularly

NIH: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research


Oral Health
Oral Hygiene
Dental Care
Mouth and Teeth
Wellness and Lifestyle
It's important to take care of your mouth and teeth starting in childhood. If you don't, you could have problems with your teeth and gums - like cavities or ...
Occupational Health
National Library of Medicine
Employee Health
Occupational Injuries

Occupational health problems occur at work or because of the kind of work you do. These problems can include

  • Cuts, broken bones, sprains, and strains
  • Loss of limbs
  • Repetitive motion disorders
  • Hearing problems caused by exposure to noise
  • Vision problems
  • Illness caused by breathing, touching, or swallowing unsafe substances
  • Illness caused by exposure to radiation
  • Exposure to germs in health care settings

Good job safety and prevention practices can reduce your risk of these problems. Try to stay fit, reduce stress, set up your work area properly, and use the right equipment and gear.


Occupational Stress
Accidents, Occupational
Occupational Diseases
Occupational Injuries
Occupational Exposure
Wellness and Lifestyle
Safety Issues
Occupational health problems occur at work or because of the kind of work you do. These problems can include Cuts, broken bones, sprains, and strains Loss of limbs ...
Exercise and Physical Fitness
National Library of Medicine
Fitness
Physical Fitness
Weight Training

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk for many chronic diseases. There are many different types of exercise; it is important that you pick the right types for you. Most people benefit from a combination of them:

  • Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking.
  • Strength, or resistance training, exercises make your muscles stronger. Some examples are lifting weights and using a resistance band.
  • Balance exercises can make it easier to walk on uneven surfaces and help prevent falls. To improve your balance, try tai chi or exercises like standing on one leg.
  • Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Yoga and doing various stretches can make you more flexible.

Fitting regular exercise into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first. But you can start slowly, and break your exercise time into chunks. Even doing ten minutes at a time is fine. You can work your way up to doing the recommended amount of exercise. How much exercise you need depends on your age and health.

Other things that you can do to make the most of your workouts include

  • Choosing activities that work all the different parts of the body, including your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis). Good core strength improves balance and stability and helps to prevent lower back injury.
  • Choosing activities that you enjoy. It's easier to make exercise a regular part of your life if you have fun doing it.
  • Exercising safely, with proper equipment, to prevent injuries. Also, listen to your body and don't overdo it.
  • Giving yourself goals. The goals should challenge you, but also be realistic. It's also helpful to reward yourself when you reach your goals. The rewards could be something big, like new workout gear, or something smaller, such as movie tickets.

Exercise
Physical Fitness
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing ...