Health Behaviour #1: Physical Activity
Physically active or sedentary lifestyles are our own choices on how we behave. We have to choose to be physically active and/or to exercise versus choosing to sit around and be physically inactive (sedentary). In other words, physically active and sedentary lifestyles are health behaviours the vast majority of us choose. It’s the sedentary lifestyle behaviours that are the problem. We are all pretty much guilty at some level of choosing comfort and convenience instead of exertion and challenge. The problem is that too much comfort and convenience and not enough exertion and challenge equals a sedentary lifestyle. The lack of physical activity is a main unhealthy behaviour that leads to heart disease, but we can prevent this. Being physically active means you are doing any physical activity for 30 minutes straight each day which makes you just slightly short of breath. This is as easy as a simple brisk 30 minute walk. Were you active today? Again, this is about you and your physical activity behaviour choices.
Health behaviours start to affect us early in life and throughout life. Unhealthy behaviours (i.e., sedentary lifestyles) are present before heart disease risk factors are, unhealthy behaviours lead to the development of heart disease risk factors while heart disease risk factors lead to the development of heart disease. Even at 15 years of age, heart disease risk is demonstrated in relation to health behaviours and heart disease risk factors already established. The 2018-19 Healthy Heart Schools’ Program data from 2,892 students was analyzed to compare how many heart disease risk factors students have to their activity levels across the 3 weight groups. In each weight grouping the results show that students who were more physically active had fewer heart disease risk factors. For example, in the obese group 16% of students that were physically active had 3 heart disease risk factors while 44% of students who were not physically active enough had 3 heart disease risk factors. Similar results were found in each weight group. These results are inline with published research which consistently indicates that physical activity lowers your risk for developing heart disease risk factors and hence lower your risk of developing heart disease. In addition, the students who are minimally physically active (sedentary) have consistently higher family medical histories positive for heart disease.
To summarize all this, students in the minimally active group (the sedentary group) have more heart disease risk factors themselves and more heart disease present in their families. Any discussion about preventing heart disease always includes avoiding sedentary lifestyles and being physically active throughout your life.
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