As many different tactics arise to battle obesity, research experts from the Mayo Clinic believe lack of exercise should be diagnosed as a medical condition.
Physical inactivity not only plagues those who are already overweight or obese, but also it can also have a detrimental effect on normal weight people who work desk jobs, patients who are immobilized for a period of time or even women put on bed rest during pregnancy. Physical inactivity is linked to type 2 diabetes and it can also have a detrimental effect on one’s health by deconditioning one’s body leading to structural and metabolic changes.
According to Dr. Michael Joyner, Mayo Clinic physiologist, when an individual becomes deconditioned they are more likely to tire quickly and experience dizziness or other discomforting feelings. This then leads many to concede to defeat, which in turn leads to the problem getting worse instead of getting better.
“I would argue that physical inactivity is the root cause of many of the common problems that we have,” Dr. Joyner said. “If we were to medicalize it, we could then develop a way, just like we’ve done for addiction, cigarettes, and other things, to give people treatments, and lifelong treatments, that focus on behavioral modifications and physical activity. And then we can take public health measures, like we did for smoking, drunken driving, and other things, to limit physical inactivity and promote physical activity.”
Along with deconditioning the body, physical inactivity can increase an individual’s chance of developing chronic medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, better known as POTS, a syndrome marked by an excessive heart rate and flu-like symptoms when standing or at a certain level of exercise.
In a study conducted by scholars from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, published in the Journal of Physiology, they found within just three months of exercise, individuals may be able to improve their POTS symptoms. With this new information, Dr. Joyner recommends before physicians prescribe medication, exercise should be suggested.
Dr. Joyer believes if physical inactivity was treat as a medical condition, health care providers may be able to observe the importance of prescribing supported exercise and formal rehabilitation.
For those who have been physically inactivity, Dr. Joyer suggests, “don’t jump right back into it and try to train for a marathon, start off with achievable goals and do it in small bites.”