We all know a sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain. However, according to health expert Marla Ahlgrimm, our waistlines are not the only concerns related to a lack of physical activity.
Q: Why is regular physical activity important?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) released a physical activity guideline for Americans in 2008. Within this publication, the ODPHP outlines a number of health concerns faced by people that do not get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. These include high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, colon cancer, depression, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and heart disease.
Q: How does regular physical activity improve cardiorespiratory function?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Your heart, blood vessels, and lungs need to be exercised just like your muscles. Getting your heart rate up stimulates your cardiorespiratory system, improving heart and lung function as well as circulation. Additionally, regular physical activity can help improve physical function in older adults by keeping vital organs – including the brain – well oxygenated.
Q: What is the difference between muscle strengthening activities and cardiovascular exercises?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Cardiovascular exercises are those that get you moving. Running, jogging, jump roping, and using an elliptical are examples of cardiovascular activities. Muscle strength training, by contrast, is often a stationary task involving free weights and/or resistance bands. Most experts recommend a combination of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity along with regular muscle strengthening activities.
Q: Is surgery a viable option for morbidly obese people wishing to become physically active?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Bariatric surgery is an option for people with a body mass index of 40 or higher. This group of people is considered most at-risk for health problems and premature death related to weight. Weight-loss surgery is never a first option and should only be considered on the advice of a healthcare professional. Bariatric surgery works by limiting the amount of food a person can consume and can jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.