A case of lazyitis Not bothering to exercise 'should be treated as a medical condition'More doctors would prescribe supported progressive exercise if inactivity was treated as a medical condition, says Mayo Clinic expert
15:57 GMT, 14 August 2012
A prolonged lack of exercise causes the body to become deconditioned
It is common knowledge that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity, which is a common cause of diabetes, high blood pressure and joint damage.
However, experts now want to treat lack of exercise as a medical condition in its own right.
Dr Michael Joyner, from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, made the case in the latest edition of The Journal of Physiology.
He said those who failed to work out
for months such as office workers tied to their desks were damaging
their health, whether they were overweight or not.
lack of exercise causes the body to become deconditioned causing
changes throughout the body. The heart rate may rise excessively during
physical activity, bones and muscles can waste, blood volume can decline
and stamina wane.
deconditioned people try to exercise, they may tire quickly and
experience dizziness or other discomfort, which makes many give up.
Dr Joyner said: 'I would argue that physical inactivity is the root cause of many of the common problems that we have.
'If we were to medicalise 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.
'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.'
Several chronic medical conditions are associated with poor capacity to exercise, including 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 a given level of exercise.
Change of mindset: Dr Joyner said medics were too quick to prescribe medication rather than exercise
Too often, medication rather than progressive exercise is prescribed, Dr. Joyner said. He noted that a study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that three months of exercise training can reverse or improve many POTS symptoms.
Dr Joyner said if physical inactivity were treated as a medical condition itself rather than simply a cause or byproduct of other illnesses, doctors may become more aware of the value of prescribing supported exercise. He added that more formal rehabilitation programs that include cognitive and behavioral therapy would develop.
For those who have been sedentary and are trying to get into exercise, Dr. Joyner advises doing it slowly and progressively.
'You just don't jump right back into it and try to train for a marathon,' he said.
'Start off with achievable goals and do it in small bites.'
He added that a brisk walk of just 10 minutes three times a day would be a good way of reaching 3hr 30mins of moderate exercise a week.