The Effects of Physical Inactivity & What is it Costing You?

What is physical inactivity costing you BCND

Learn how physical inactivity effects your body. Metabolic syndrome is an emerging health condition that incorporates several risk factors relating to the biochemical processes of the body involved in normal bodily functions. Risk factors such as high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, hypertension or high blood pressure as well as high fasting glucose all contribute to the condition known as metabolic syndrome. Large waist lines with excess fat around the waist line and inactivity all contribute to the development of this condition (2016, June 22). Trends often begin in childhood and lifestyles continue to create more burdens on people as they age into adults with an 8% burden on total healthcare costs, contributing to 13% of total deaths nationwide (Booth, F. W., & Hawley, J. A., 2015). This may not seem like a lot initially, but understanding that these conditions are contributed to an overall lack of physical activity and are completing preventable if appropriate lifestyle factors are forged if people assume responsibility for their health and wellbeing. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends a minimum of 30 mins of exercise daily to reduce the risk of chronic disease, however only 1 in 4 American adults currently meet the required recommendation (Fenton, M., 2005). Obesity as well as metabolic disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc are the result of lifestyle risk factors including inactivity. This has created a new brand of disease known as metabolic syndrome, which really is a lifestyle disorder combined with high stress, low physical activity, poor diet, etc.

Everyone complains that living healthy or living naturally is expensive, however the research proves otherwise. When estimating direct medical costs such as doctor’s appointments, prescription medications, procedures, etc the expenditures on average cost around $2,529 annually. However, when you begin to look at indirect costs such as loss of activity, injury, workplace disability, sick time, etc these expenditures continue to rise in cost to far reaching heights. Physically inactive people spent on average around $330 more in health expenses than those that were physically active. When looking at gross national spending $77 billion dollars was spent collectively in the year 2000 for people in inactive populations. The National Health Interview Survey conducted in 1996 as well as 1996 National Medicine Expenditures survey tracked these elevated medical expenditures finding that people without cardiovascular diseases spent an average of $114 annually while people with cardiovascular diseases spent $2,529 that directly correlated to their inactivity levels which contributed to their health condition. It is clear the cost of inactivity is far more than the investment into one’s health and wellbeing especially when a simple 30 mins walk around the block would suffice as a means to prevent certain cardiovascular driven disease, that in turn creates metabolic syndromes (Katzmarzyk, P. T., 2011).

When comparing employee health insurance spends a distinction can be made in terms of cost comparisons. Annual employee medical costs for active employees were reported at $817 and $1543 lower than those of the inactive counterparts. This is as a result of better looking labwork with marked lower glucose numbers, HDL, LDL as well as triglyceride numbers, which are positively impacted with ongoing regular activity. When exploring a segment of the U.S. Auto Industry employee health programs active employees spent $199-$260 lower than inactive employees when participating in exercise merely only one to two times per week. Medicare retirees of this same communities health care costs were also reported lower among those participating in physical activity one to two times per week compared with those with no physical activity. Inactivity has been proven to be a significant contributing factor to US healthcare costs, when looking at country specific ranges 1.2% to 2.5% of total annual healthcare expenditures are attributable to physical inactivity in individuals (Katzmarzyk, P. T., 2011).

Incentive programs to encourage exercise must be founded in order to motivate, encourage, and inspire people to get up and move. Medical school curriculum still places emphasis on secondary not primary lifestyle related metabolic disease prevention, while still just suggesting a person should move or eat better without providing them with a plan of action. In some cases medical professionals do not even do that, but perhaps wait and prescribe a medication once the person becomes sicker. Integrative medical approaches are necessary to combine both allopathic disease management, when necessary, but also functional medical approaches that look more at the metabolism as well as biochemical functions of the body is warranted. The Human Genome project is one example to which the scientific and healthcare community is beginning to advance towards individualized medicine by looking at genomics, epigenetic, and methylation pathways as they impact the health of the individual encouraging more focused intentional healthcare (Booth, F. W., & Hawley, J. A., 2015).

Holisitc Physical Activity Social 0044

Alas, when encouraging lifestyle changes with people it is encouraged that the changes being advised must be realistic and attainable for a general population. Converting people into raw food vegans, or turning everyone into cross fitters is far from realistic when looking at someone coming from a sedentary lifestyle into a more active one. Innovations in exercise prescriptions and incentives must play a role with time considerations for busy professionals. HIIT training seems to be the answer with high impact interval training that can be done in low volume with high endurance offering more positive long lasting metabolic impact. This form of exercise features reduced time commitments of 20-30 minutes no more than two to three times per week. Exercise snacking or walking daily before meals for 18 mins also has been shown to improve blood glucose levels preventing metabolic syndrome. Technological advancements have also been provided such as fitbits, Apple watches, and Garmins are used to help us stay on track motivating and measuring our steps as well as other healthcare goals (Booth, F. W., & Hawley, J. A., 2015).

Ultimately, we have reached an era to which the person, not the doctor must begin to take  personal responsibility for his or her own health and wellbeing. Ensuring that a person gets adequate exercise, drinks plenty of water, rests, while eating healthy protein rich and nutritious meals is key in order to positively change the ever growing prevalence of metabolic syndrome. New emerging lifestyle medicine just may be the prescription to that with doctors and practitioners working with individuals to develop skilled plans designed to help people get back on track with their health. After all, if we continue at this rate of being irresponsible with our health our overall healthcare expenses will continue to sour while our health continues to decline creating more pressure on not only the economy but our families quality of life as well. It is up to us to take control of our health and do as nature intended us to do, be well, be healthy, and be active. Luckily, functional medicine providers are available in Virginia Beach to help you get back on track with your health. At Holistic Family Practice, we specialize in guiding you step by step through the maze of healthcare teaching you every step of the way how to restore your health. We focus on the step you are on or the next step not the final step or the last step ensuring you do not become overwhelmed by the process. We truly care about you and your health concerns as well as goals and we are dedicated to help not only you get back on track but your entire family. We support you n investing in your health rather than subsidizing your illness and we know that initially it will take some doing but over time the benefits and dividends you receive in living a healthy lifestyle are profound. I always offer a 15 minute complimentary wellness consultation to see if our practice is a good fit for you. Give us a call and allow us to help you and your family live naturally by taking responsibility for your health.

Book your wellness visit or consultation today by clicking here.

All information contained in this blog post is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and is neither intended nor suited to be a replacement or substitute for professional medical treatment nor for professional medical advice relative to a specific medical question or condition.


Booth, F. W., & Hawley, J. A. (2015). The erosion of physical activity in Western societies: an      

economic death march. Diabetologia, 58(8), 1730-1734. doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3617-5

Fenton, M. (2005). Battling America’s Epidemic of Physical Inactivity: Building More Walkable,

Livable Communities. Journal Of Nutrition Education & Behavior, 37S115-S118

Katzmarzyk, P. T. (2011). Cost-effectiveness of exercise is medicine. Current Sports Medicine

Reports, 10(4), 217-223. doi:10.1249/JSR.0b013e318223cb10

Wang, G., Pratt, M., Macera, C. A., Zheng, Z., & Heath, G. (2004). Physical
activity, cardiovascular disease, and medical expenditures in U.S. adults. Annals Of    

Behavioral Medicine: A Publication Of The Society Of Behavioral Medicine, 28(2), 88-94.

What Is Metabolic Syndrome? (2016, June 22). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms

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