We are too indolent for our own good. You can barely see people today making a physical exertion. Our laziness and reliance on technology has led us to a host of ailments. They are called chronic diseases and they can make anybody’s life miserable.

We define physical inactivity as “physical activity levels less than those required for optimal health and prevention of premature death”. Further details of the definition is given in the section entitled, “Prevention of death by primary prevention of physical inactivity”.

Some people incorrectly use physical fitness and physical activity interchangeably. The CDC defines physical fitness as “The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies. Physical fitness includes a number of components consisting of cardio-respiratory endurance (aerobic power), skeletal muscle endurance, skeletal muscle strength, skeletal muscle power, flexibility, and balance, speed of movement, reaction time, and body composition”.

The CDC defines physical activity as “Any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above a basal level”. Learning this difference is definitely important. Inherited genes and their interaction with physical activity levels determine physical fitness. However, chronic physical activity levels themselves modulate fitness. Further, the levels of physical activity themselves modulate fitness improvements.

Chronic diseases are major killers in the modern era. The gravest ones are discussed below. Have a look.

1. Obesity


A sedentary lifestyle is directly responsible for excessive weight gain. When the BMI exceeds 30, a person is said to be obese. With obesity comes a string of ailments. When we lead a sedentary lifestyle, we are consuming calories, which are not being put to use. When our energy expenditure goes down, fat tends to deposit in our body. If this continues to be unchecked, inactive lifestyle can tip an individual towards obesity that in turn leads to the decline of lifespan.

2. Asthma

Lack of physical activity takes the form of fat accumulation. When abdominal fat presses down on the diaphragm, the symptoms of asthma manifest themselves. Excess fat affects lung functions and may even constrict the trachea and cause dyspepsia. It can even take the shape of sleep apnea or pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lung arteries).

3. Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome (OHS)


OHS is yet another breathing ailment that is linked directly to physical inactivity and obesity. When the oxygen level in the blood goes down and too much carbon dioxide is diluted into the blood, you might get OHS.

4. Cardiovascular diseases

Abdominal weight gain accompanies cardiovascular diseases. Obese people are four times more prone to cardiac problems. Physical inactivity can make your blood pressure shoot up. The most dangerous fall out is the high levels of bad cholesterol that build up. The arteries of the heart become clogged and affect the heart’s function of pumping blood. This risk factor may become a cause of stroke and cardiac arrest later in life.

5. Diabetes


When you lead an inactive lifestyle and put on unwanted weight, your body becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin is responsible for delivering sugar from your blood to your cells. When the body becomes immune to insulin, blood sugar level spikes. This is a precursor to Para diabetes, which may eventually lead to diabetes.

6. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis which has affected millions of people around the world. It occurs when the cartilage on the ends of your bones gets damaged with time or lack of physical activities. It, however can affect any part of your body but it mostly affects joints in the hands, hips, knees and spine.

7. Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is something that everyone experiences at some point in his/her life. It might be short lived or long lasting but requires proper care and treatment. If not treated well, it may keep troubling you for life. It is often caused when you suddenly lift too much weight or exercise very hard. At times, it is also caused due to disc bulging. If a bulging disc presses on the sciatic nerve, it causes severe pain in the lower back region.

In case you are suffering from any of the above mentioned diseases, it may cause serious issues for you if you do not take proper medication. Immediate consultation with an experienced doctor and a dietitian is highly recommended.


Physical inactivity is a magnet for diseases. Your torpid lifestyle will make you gravely ill. So, get to your feet and embark on a healthy lifestyle. Indulge in some sort of physical activity such as swimming, cycling, jogging. Exercise and yoga are extremely beneficial in weight loss. Eat a balanced diet that includes green vegetables and fruits, a balanced portion of protein and carbohydrates. Adopting these changes can help you a great deal in steering away from lifestyle disorders.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!


N.B. Harini M.Sc (Clinical Nutrition) ., RD., CDE

Image courtesy – Google!

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