-Physical Activity versus a Sedentary Lifestyle-

Updated: May 19, 2018

Take a glimpse at the structure of the human body with the skeletal system composed of just over 200 named bones, cartilage, joints, and ligaments, as well as a muscular system that includes more than 600 skeletal muscles that keep us moving, and you can easily imagine that we are created for movement!

So, what type of movement are we meant to get each day and does it matter? And, when we do not make physical activity a priority each day, and our life becomes sedentary or physically inactive does that have an impact on our body? Let’s take a look…

Physical Activity

Movement requires various body systems working together such as the brain and nerves that send messages to the skeletal muscle to pull on the bones by way of the tendons to move the body.

Movement takes energy which uses the calories that we take in each day when we eat and drink. This energy use helps us to control our weight.

Movement helps to strengthen our body parts such as the skeletal muscle, heart, blood vessels, bones, and more!

Movement also improves the body’s ability to communicate from one cell to another by releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine, glutamate, and serotonin. Moving our bodies reduces our risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Body movement can be broken into four types, flexibility, balance, aerobic, and resistance movements.

Flexibility movement such as the quadriceps, hamstring and calf extensions stretches the muscles and helps to improve your range of motion by lengthening and making the muscle more flexible, and it can reduce stiffening of the arteries as we age.

Balance movement such as one-legged squats or leg swings is important to strengthen the body’s core which helps to prevent falls.

Aerobic movement stimulates your heart rate and breathing which increases your endurance. This type of movement has been associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, decreased inflammation, increased mood, and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. When done regularly, aerobic movement such as walking briskly, swimming, or cycling can reduce your risk for diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Resistance movement improves lean muscle mass and builds bone. This type of movement, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups can help our bodies burn more calories, as lean muscle uses more energy than other types of body tissue and so it helps us to control our weight.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Lack of regular physical movement or a sedentary lifestyle puts an individual at risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, certain types of cancer, and obesity.

Research shows that more than 70% of the population is spending more than 6 hours sitting each day.

Studies have shown that even modest adjustments to a sedentary lifestyle can be beneficial as spending just 10 minutes per day walking briskly was shown to help prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and mental health challenges.


We can see that the body was meant for movement and that when we do not make movement a priority each day body systems become unable to function properly, and disease can occur.

Making regular physical movement a part of every day may seem difficult some days as work, school and other obligations seem to get in the way. However, remembering to make movement a priority each day will help keep you healthy and reduce your risk for chronic illnesses.

So, pick up a basketball and head outside with a friend for a little one-on-one, take your dog for a walk, or get out into the yard or garden and pull some weeds, because every movement you make helps to keep your body healthy and strong.

3 John 1: 2 “…I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”


Physical Activity

Marieb, E. & Hoehn, K. (2013). Human anatomy & physiology (9th ed.). Glenview, IL: Pearson. https://www.healthdiscovery.net/articles/exercise_importa.htm Douris, P. C., Ingenito, T., Piccirillo, B., Herbst, M., Petrizzo, J., Cherian, V., . . . Min-Kyung, J. (2013). Martial arts training attenuates arterial stiffness in middle aged adults. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 4(3), 201-n/a. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezp-02.lirn.net/docview/1460128288?accountid=158302 https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/the-4-most-important-types-of-exercise Li, L., Chen, X., Lv, S., Dong, M., Zhang, L., Tu, J., . . . Zou, J. (2014). Influence of exercise on bone remodeling-related hormones and cytokines in ovariectomized rats: A model of postmenopausal osteoporosis. PLoS One, 9(11), e112845. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp-01.lirn.net/10.1371/journal.pone.0112845 Petzinger, G. M., Fisher, B. E., Akopian, G., Holschneider, D. P., Wood, R., Walsh, J. P., . . . Jakowec, M. W. (2011). The role of exercise in facilitating basal ganglia function in parkinson's disease. Neurodegenerative Disease Management, 1(2), 157-170. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp-02.lirn.net/10.2217/nmt.11.16

Sedentary Lifestyle

Owen, N., Sparling, P. B., Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., & Matthews, C. E. (2010). Sedentary Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 85(12), 1138–1141. http://doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0444 https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/risks_of_physical_inactivity_85,P00218 Iacobucci, G. (2017). Sedentary lifestyle is putting middle aged health at risk, PHE warns. BMJ : British Medical Journal (Online), 358 doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp-02.lirn.net/10.1136/bmj.j3995 https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/general-health/sedentary-lifestyle-health-risks.html Brugnara, L., Murillo, S., Novials, A., Rojo-Martínez, G., Soriguer, F., Goday, A., . . . Gomis, R. (2016). Low physical activity and its association with diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors: A nationwide, population-based study. PLoS One, 11(8) doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp-02.lirn.net/10.1371/journal.pone.0160959