Taking steps to prevent disease and preserve your good health is something everyone should consider. Still, a healthy lifestyle can be easy to neglect, since our lives are busy and we're surrounded by unhealthy food. When you're considering an exercise routine to contribute to a healthy lifestyle, it can be helpful to remember the potential consequences of obesity, a common result of being inactive.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Obesity occurs when an individual has more than a healthy amount of body weight. Obesity can be caused by eating more calories than your body burns each day, a lack of exercise, by drinking too much alcohol, or by a combination of these factors. Obesity is, unfortunately, common in the United States. According to a 2009-10 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35.7 percent of American adults are obese.
Being overweight creates several health concerns, including an increased risk for coronary heart disease. Your coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood directly to the heart muscle. Coronary heart disease occurs when the inside of these blood vessels become coated in a mixture of fat and calcium called plaque, in a process known as atherosclerosis. This thickening of the artery walls decreases blood flow through the coronary arteries, which can lead to death.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, also known as insulin-resistant or adult-onset diabetes, is strongly linked to obesity. In individuals who are genetically predisposed, obesity can be a cause of Type 2 diabetes. Inactivity increases your risk for the disease, which is characterized by an imbalance in glucose levels in the blood, which can lead to excess thirst and hunger, as well as heart disease, kidney failure and death. Living with Type 2 diabetes means checking frequently to monitor your blood sugar and maintain correct glucose levels.
Psychologists have identified a link between obesity and depression, especially in children and young adults, although it's not clear whether obesity causes depression or vice-versa. Sarah Mustillo, Ph.D., of Duke University Medical Center says the link may be socially induced, or it may be triggered by the brain's process of balancing mood-influencing hormones. The HPA axis, a hormonal pathway, releases more cortisol when under stress, which encourages weight gain in the midsection. Mustillo says that both obesity and depression are affected by an imbalance in the HPA axis, which can be induced by the social environment or an individual's biology.
Obesity usually results in increased bone mass over time, in response to the heavier load of extra fat. However, a study conducted by Lan-Juan Zhao of the University of Missouri found a negative correlation between weight and bone mass in obese individuals. In other words, an obese individual's bone mass will be higher than an individual of a healthy weight, but the ratio between the strength of an obese individual's bones and his weight will be lower. This decrease in relative strength suggests that fat mass and bone strength share some molecular pathways and genetic factors. Many lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise, can help reverse obesity and osteoporosis simultaneously.
Avoiding the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle starts with diet and exercise. A healthy diet with a low intake of processed sugars and carbohydrates combined with a regular amount of moderate exercise will greatly reduce your health risks. Being physically fit should be a priority if you want to improve your quality of life and your expected longevity.