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HMSA Member News > Member NewsFall 2009 IS Magazine11/25/09 IS Online

The High Cost of Inactivity

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to costly chronic diseases.

By Craig DeSilva

Do you feel like you’re not getting enough exercise? You’re not alone. In Hawai‘i, about half of the adult population does not meet physical activity recommendations.

If you think exercising costs too much time and money, consider this: Increasing evidence shows that being unhealthy can cost more time and money in the long run.

Inactivity is costly for society as a whole, contributing to higher medical costs and more sick days at work. That’s because inactivity, along with an unhealthy diet, can add up to gaining unwanted pounds, putting you at risk for chronic diseases that are costly to treat. During the past 20 years, obesity rates among adults have risen significantly in the U.S. Statistics show that about 34 percent of U.S. adults are obese. In Hawai‘i, about 20 percent of adults are obese.

Exercise provides many benefits to help you look and feel good. It also helps manage health care costs. According to the Hawai‘i Department of Health’s Hawai‘i Physical Activity and Nutrition Surveillance Report 2008:

  • If all Hawai‘i adults were physically active, about $140 million could have been saved on hospital costs related to heart disease, stroke and diabetes in 2005.
  • Adults who are not physically active on a regular basis are more likely to have high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.

Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:

  • Health care costs associated with physical inactivity topped $76 billion in 2000.
  • If 10 percent of adults began a regular walking program, $5.6 billion spent to treat heart disease could be saved.
  • A 10-percent weight loss can reduce an overweight person’s lifetime medical costs by $2,200 to $5,300 dollars by lowering costs associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and high cholesterol.

How much physical activity is beneficial to your health? Studies show that 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can lower your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Physical activity can help you avoid premature death and feelings of depression and anxiety. It also helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.

Island Scene Online is not intended to replace the advice of health care professionals. Please consult your physician for your personal needs and before making any changes in your lifestyle.
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