Our culture today is experiencing a lifestyle shift unlike any other change involving generations past. As modern technology continues to skyrocket toward the future, an almost perfect negative correlation can be found in the amount of physical activity the average individual performs.
While the perils of a sedentary lifestyle are somewhat common knowledge, this article will touch on a few of some of these detriments to specific anatomical systems.
A common trend you will notice as we progress in this discussion is the body’s remarkable ability to allocate resources to specific locations it deems necessary. Muscles are a direct and literally observable example of this trend.
When the muscular system is not frequently exposed to outside stresses and resistances that require muscle tissue to contract and shorten, the body notices and begins to decrease the amount of nutrients and oxygen the muscle receives.
Naturally, this leads to a reduction in overall muscle size and strength. On the contrary, if the body realizes that a muscle or group of muscles is being asked to handle an increased workout on a consistent basis, these structures will receive a greater influx of nutrients, thereby increasing in both size and force output.
Our bones are specifically designed to provide an overall framework for the body, protect vital organs, store nutrients and specific types and cells and manage the perpetual effect of gravity. When an individual’s lifestyle is devoid of adequate physical activity, the skeletal system, as with most other body systems, begins to deteriorate due to a decrease in the nourishment it receives.
The overall strength of a bone is usually described in terms of bone mineral density (BMD). Processes such as prolonged periods of inactivity and aging are marked by an increase in this parameter. Quite obviously, decreased bone mineral density is highly correlated to increase breaks and fractures, as well as reduced overall functionality an individual maintains.
The Cardiovascular System
Your heart really is the MVP when it comes to persistence. No matter how inactive you choose to be, this organ does not follow suit. Although your heart will continue to function despite an inadequate amount of movement, it is far from immune to it.
Just a few examples of how lack of movement negatively affects the heart are a weaker, less efficient contraction, decreased oxygen uptake and obstructed flow of blood the through body. These issues force the heart to work much harder to keep you alive, which inevitably decreased the lifespan of the heart itself.
Metabolism & Bodyweight
Probably the most obvious consequence of not moving enough is an increase in bodyweight, often times leading to obesity. Your body has a specific amount of calories it requires to maintain vital structures such as the heart, brain and liver. Whatever caloric total remaining after these systems are accounted for is allocated to provide energy towards physical activity and movement.
In a movement deficit, these leftover calories are not burned as full and must be stored somewhere in the body for a later date. As you can probably guess, one of the main storage vessels is adipose tissue or body fat. Digressing back to the effects of inactivity of muscle tissue, specifically the reduction in muscle size due to non-use, metabolism is intricately involved in this process. Lean muscle mass actually has a high demand for calories even while at rest.
The more muscle present in the body, the higher the metabolic rate becomes. To put it simply, there will actually be less of those leftover calories we previously discussed, resulting in less potential for storage in the form of fat.