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Physical Inactivity – How Not Moving Is Killing Us!

Written by Ben Camara on 8th July 2020.


“If there is any deficiency in food or exercise the body will fall sick..”-Hippocrates

Society today is characterized by an increasingly inactive life. The social environment and the spread of new technologies reduce the desire for people to move or do more rigorous exercise. This is reflected in the growing number of overweight children and the high rate of deaths of older adults associated with physical inactivity. The physical effort required in work and occupation has steadily decreased. Cars, public transportation, elevators, Internet shopping, and the trend of cocooning promote a sedentary lifestyle involving little or no physical activity – and I like most love a Sunday being a couch potato! You’re probably reading this and thinking ‘yes, tell me something I don’t know’, but let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why this isn’t a good thing and what it’s actually doing to our bodies.

Why is it killing us?

The World Health Organisation already identified that lack of physical activity is a significant factor of five major NCDs: coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

It also goes onto say –

Physical inactivity is one of the top four pillars of a non-communicable disease (NCD).(1)There is an association between physical inactivity and poor physical and mental Health-related quality of life. The association is even stronger for physical than mental. Should you start to look at creating habits now? We’d say yes as with anything related to healthier habits, the more you structure into your routine the more consistent you will be. Unfortunately, however furthermore recent studies have shown the age groups of which struggle more so than others in battling to keep enough activity per week going – Great news for you all Remote Coaches, there are more people than ever that need your help. A study in Malaysia shows that one in two older adults in the country are physically inactive. They are considered to be the most physically inactive segment of the population.(3) There have been many studies done that correlates inactivity, especially with adults and has been linked to health, self-efficacy, socioeconomic and family circumstances.(4)

It is now a challenge for the global medical sector on how to address this as one of the public health concerns and the NHS here in the UK have on multiple occasions asked for better self-care alongside clear communication from doctors and health and fitness professionals aka you remote coaching.

What are the effects on the body from not moving?

Excessive inactivity enhances rapid disruption of normal function in tissues as well as cells and gene expression. The adverse effects of an inactive lifestyle and a lack of exercise have been verified by an enormous amount of epidemiological studies. In detail, physical inactivity or a lack of lifetime exercise increases the relative risk of coronary heart disease by 45%, stroke by 60%, hypertension by 30%, and diabetes type 2 by 50% in the United States.5 If the above isn’t enough of a reason then please do continue.

Inactive and ‘fewer fit people’ have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Lack of physical activities may also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, something we see more and more with the rise of youthful depression and anxiety. An exploratory study indicated that physically fit and active adolescents are less likely to be lonely than inactive adolescents 6 , could it be the community they train with? The ‘switching off’ that most people gain from training and exercising? Who knows but we all could do with feeling part of a community or what we like to say Tribe. Additionally, physically inactive people were twice as likely to have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) compared with active individuals. 7

Now this is the part where you, as health and fitness professionals, play an important role.

Tips to Improve your Physical Activity

First and foremost and I think personally one of the most powerful parts of your role is, you’re there as a support for someone that has made the decision to change – something overlooked all too much.

The American Heart Association recommends moderate-intensity exercises for either 30 minutes every day for five days per week or 2 hours and 30 minutes of the week to reduce health risks. However, new research even suggests that meeting minimum levels of physical activity is no longer sufficient to reduce cardiovascular risk.10 So here are some simple tips that you could do to improve.

Set a goal:

We’ve all seen the ‘get your 10,000 steps in’ goal, which has turned into the generic number that no-one really cares about. The trick is not the 10,000 steps but more so the setting of a target, a target that’s right for you.

Being impulsive is the route cause of all procrastination so make sure you’re setting goals, planning them and structuring them into your daily or weekly routine.

Use your smart watch, your pedometer, Siri reminders or what ever it may be to start hitting your short-term smart goals.

Make it fun, time to get creative

There’s nothing better than the feeling of looking forward to the next training or exercise routine, the thought of solving in-activity just doesn’t come into your mind. However, this only can come from combining having fun whilst exercising and feeling rewarded when doing so. Whether this is making it competitive either against a team, a person or yourself or learning a fun task that you are progressing with a week on week.

Your activity doesn’t need to be tied to a gym, it could be a salsa class on a Friday or hiking on a Sunday with the family or it could be training with your favorite yoga teacher at home. Don’t be mentally lazy as well as inactive, get out and try new things or book the things in which you know you used to enjoy.

Bring a friend.

Taking a friend or training with a group is a fantastic way to battle so many of the issues we have spoken about. Feeling part of something is going to hold not only you accountable but also the friend or friends you’re training with.

It is necessary to promote awareness on active and healthy aging as well as the importance and benefits of healthy lifestyles from the early stages of life. Thus, to improve adherence to physical activity, health professionals should strengthen the health message with the more compelling argument that “physical activity makes life worth living”.

If you’re in need of getting some more activity into your life then head over to and find a coach that can help you get kick started again.


 If you’ve read this and you’re a coach, take advantage and get the guide on ‘How to become a successful online coach’  It’s going to help!


  1. ​Bauman AE, Reis RS, Sallis JF, et al. Correlates of physical activity: Why are some people physically active and others not? Lancet. 2012;380(9838):258–271. doi:10.1016/S0140–6736(12)60735–1
  2. Wardoku R, Blair C, Demmer R, Prizment A. Association between physical inactivity and health-related quality of life in adults with coronary heart disease. Maturitas. 2019;128:36–42. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.07.005
  3. ​Lian TC, Bonn G, Han YS, Choo YC, Piau WC. Physical activity and its correlates among adults in Malaysia: A cross-sectional descriptive study. PLoS One. 2016;11(6). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157730
  4. Boney B. Physical Inactivity Costing billions. Accessed November 1, 2019.
  5. Kirchengast S. Physical Inactivity from the Viewpoint of Evolutionary Medicine. 2014;2:34–50. doi:10.3390/sports2020034
  6. Adolescent loneliness linked to low physical fitness and physical inactivity – ProQuest Central – ProQuest. Accessed November 1, 2019.
  7. Bhui KS, Dinos S, Ashby D, Nazroo J, Wessely S, White PD. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in an Ethnically Diverse Population: The Influence of Psychosocial Adversity and Physical Inactivity.; 2011. doi:10.1186/1741–7015–9–26
  8. Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, et al. Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: An analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet. 2012;380(9838):219–229. doi:10.1016/S0140–6736(12)61031–9
  9. de Souto Barreto P. Why are we failing to promote physical activity globally? Bull World Health Organ. 2013;91(6). doi:10.2471/BLT.13.120790
  10. González K, Fuentes J, Márquez JL. Physical inactivity, sedentary behavior and chronic diseases. Korean J Fam Med. 2017;38(3):111–115. doi:10.4082/kjfm.2017.38.3.111