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No gym is no excuse: Negative health effects caused by no physical activity

Aloe Suarez, Reporter

With self-quarantining still in effect, lack of any activity could cause additional negative health effects, such as diabetes and mental stress.

Health officials are concerned that most Americans are not completing the 150 minutes of physical activity per week required by the World Health Organization to be healthy.

Gyms and the like have recently reopened their doors with health safety regulations following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. However, with limited capacity and recent mask protests, attendees aren’t maintaining safe distancing or keeping masks on while exercising.

Attendance has shown itself to decrease on the basis of people’s concern for safety and lack of space to enjoy their workouts. Yet these arguments are used to avoid doing any other form of exercise, which concerns health officials and researchers.

According to the CDC, only 53.3% of adults over the age of 18 meet an aerobic level of physical fitness, and 23.3% also meet muscle-strengthening activity. At the rate of the pandemic, the number of overweight or obese Americans could increase.

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With remote classes and workplaces, students and workers are stationary for hours at a time.

“Sitting is now considered the new smoking,” said Dr. James Churilla, professor of Epidemiology at the University of North Florida. “That’s how bad it is for you for extended periods of time.”

Exercise isn’t limited to working out at the gym. Outdoor activities are encouraged, such as biking, gardening, and walking. Sedentary breaks are recommended to avoid body aches, like back pain or poor posture, from sitting for long periods. 

“You don’t want to be sedentary for long,” said Churilla. “Even if it’s just… standing every hour or every 45 minutes and a taking a five-minute walk. This will help engage some of the muscles that are going to help burn some calories. It just helps to keep your metabolism a little bit more healthy.”

Health officials are also concerned about the rise of diabetes in America. According to the American Diabetic Association, 10.5% of the U.S. population is diabetic, and previous data show annual increases.

Long periods of sitting and inactivity could increase blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.

“Seven months [isn’t] a whole lot of time,” Churilla said. “But I’m not real optimistic about what it’s going to look like— I think people’s health is probably going to deteriorate between the sedentariness and the stress. I think we’re going to have to make a big combat to return to some level of normalcy.”

Data has yet to be collected to show the quarantine’s overall effects and is estimated to release between six months to a year from now.

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No gym is no excuse: Negative health effects caused by no physical activity