Goodbye sedentary lifestyle: 6 reasons to exercise

The first substantial change in human lifestyles came after the so-called “industrial revolution” and the second change we are now experiencing after the “technological revolution”. Before the Industrial Revolution, food was affected by the variability of supply over time, and the need for effort to procure food was always involved.

This fact changes after the emergence of large factories, when the machines were responsible for fine grinding the grain and removing bran and all non-digestible fiber parts, resulting in a higher speed of absorption of glucose from foods rich in cereals. . Consequently, a large abundance of carbohydrate-rich foods with a high glycemic index was produced, And therefore a rapid assimilation that has invaded our food.

Today, after the arrival of the technological revolution, these trends have strengthened and progress has made a wide variety of new and palatable foods available to all.Attractive colors and irresistible crunchy sounds when chewed. Some of these products are very rich in fast carbohydrates and fats: pastries, pastries and derivatives, sweets, etc. All of these circumstances, along with the sedentary lifestyle, have potentiated the negative consequences of insulin resistance over the past 50 years.

The population of industrialized countries is exposed to excessive energy intake mainly in the form of fast-absorbing carbohydrates and saturated fats. Are we domesticating ourselves?

A brain adapted to hunger

Although we try to avoid consuming high calorie foods in our diet, we are aware of the difficulty of depriving ourselves of any of these dishes. For starters, foods high in fat are much tastier, which makes our nervous system prefer them.

If we go back in history, the most abundant periods are those of food scarcity and hunger, rather than those of abundance. As a result, our brains were adjusting to have this preference for those types of foods which help with the accumulation of fat and are an essential source of energy to survive long periods without food. The problem we have today is that the preference for this type of food is combined with the lack of need for physical exercise in daily activities, leading to the emergence of a society with more overweight.

These new conditions, applied to the population carrying the energy-efficient genotype, lead many people to live in permanent hyperinsulinemia involving a number of diseases. Recent studies have highlighted the sedentary lifestyle as a factor linked to the onset and severity of a large number of chronic diseases. like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, among others.

Fight against the sedentary lifestyle

In Europe, the European Commission in the White Paper on Sport recognizes that it is not making enough progress in the fight against sedentary lifestyles and the promotion of physical activity.

The Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine considers that the prevalence of sedentary lifestyle is higher than that of any other risk factor today, such as smoking or alcohol consumption, because only 12% of the population train properly.

This is worrying, given that by playing sports regularly, you can enjoy several benefits. Among them we can highlight the following.

1. It means economic savings

A survey carried out in Argentina by the Secretariat of Tourism and Sports of the Nation with the qualified support of the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) showed that sedentarism not only promotes the emergence of diseases, but also has a high economic cost for the country: About 20% of the budget allocated to health-related organizations could be saved if frequent physical activity was improved.

2. It has positive psychological effects

Higher levels of physical activity have been associated with few or few symptoms of depression and possibly anxiety. and tension. For this reason, sport is one of the most common psychological interventions. Another benefit that we find is the building of better self-esteem, a positive self-image in women and an improvement in the quality of life between children and adults. These benefits may be due to the combination of physical activity and socio-cultural aspects that may accompany the activity.

3. Improves deep sleep

Restful sleep is like a source of youth and exercise will help you achieve this. Regular exercise has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and have deeper REM phases. At least 150 minutes of exercise per week will improve the quality of sleep.

4. Improves cognitive processes

On another side, physical activity also plays an important role in cognitive processes. A number of studies conducted by the University of Illinois in the United States have found a relationship between increased aerobic activity and less neuronal degeneration. In addition, several studies have shown that certain cognitive processes and skills in older people are better when they engage in physical activity.

For example, a study conducted by the same university in 1999 observed a group of people who for 60 years had led very sedentary lives. After walking for 45 minutes three times a week, they improved their mental capacities, which usually decline with age. And it is not only at older ages that significant differences have been noted; in the case of children who engage in systematic physical activity, cognitive processes are better than those of sedentary children.

5. Improves brain development

There are many articles that echo the relevance of exercise to the functioning and development of the brain. In a study conducted by Chaddockse was able to see how these children who were in good physical shape had an increase in the volume of the hippocampus (very important area in learning and memory).

Thayer and his team discovered in 1994, through studies on mice, that physical activity increased the secretion of cerebral neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin linked to nerve growth factor, located primarily in the hippocampus and the brain. Cerebral cortex. This substance prolongs the life expectancy of neurons and protects the brain from possible ischemia.. In addition, he found that physical activity causes muscles to secrete IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) which enters the bloodstream, reaching the brain and stimulating the production of brain neurotrophic factor. . Therefore, physical exercise helps to better preserve the cognitive and sensory functions of the brain.

All of these results have positioned physical activity as a neuropreventive role in various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

6. Delays cellular aging

Telomeres, structures located at the ends of chromosomes, get shorter with age. Long telomeres are associated with longevity.

Well, a team of scientists from the University of California presented the results of a study whereand show that with the introduction of healthy habits, we can change the size of these structures, And therefore the predisposition to suffer the scars typical of age.


So if we want to save money on drugs, have better self-esteem, sleep better, have nimble brains, and live longer and better, there is no doubt what we need to do. from now on.

How much exercise do you need to do to stay in shape? According to the WHO, in people aged 18 to 64, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous activity. It can be increased to 300 minutes by combining it with muscle building exercises.

Bibliographical references:

  • Chaddock, L., Erickson, KI, Prakash, RS, Kim, JS, Voss, MW, and VanPatter. M., (2010). Neuroimaging research on the association between aerobic fitness, hippocampal volume and memory performance in pre-adolescent children. Brain Research, 1358, 172-183.
  • Duperly, J. (2005). Active lifestyle in metabolic syndrome. Bogota, DC
  • Matsudo, SM Physical activity: passport to health. Tower. Clin. Account – 2012.
  • Ramirez, W, Vinaccia, S and Ramon Suarez, G. The impact of physical activity and sport on health, cognition, socialization, and school performance: a theoretical review. Journal of Social Studies, n ° 18, August 2004, 67-75.
  • Ströhle, A. Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. J Neural Transm (2009) 116: 777-784
  • Suay, F. (2012). Why are we so sedentary?

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