Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death due to unhealthy lifestyle choices in the modern era. People today do not engage in adequate exercise and intake food high in calories. According to Raghupathi & Raghupathi (2018), approximately half of American citizens live with at least one chronic disease. Chronic diseases do not only affect individual and their families. It also affects the health costs of a country. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that chronic diseases are the primary cause of aggregate health care spending in the United States (Raghupathi & Raghupathi, 2018). Therefore preventive measures are necessary to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases. Studies have shown that physical activity is one of the most effective ways to prevent chronic diseases. This article will discuss the three most prevalent chronic diseases, obesity, diabetes and heart disease and how physical activity can prevent them.
Obesity is a disease associated with excessive accumulation of fat. According to the World Health Organization (2021), a person is obese if their body mass index (BMI) is 30 and above. A person’s BMI is their weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters. Obesity leads to other chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes and some types of cancers. Today, the rate of children who are obese has increased rapidly due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Most children take foods high in cholesterol and spend most of their time seated due to technological advancement, which has made games accessible on their phones and computers. Approximately 38.2 million children below the age of 5 were obese or overweight in 2019 (WHO, 2021). Obesity was also prevalent in high-income countries, but its prevalence has increased in middle and low-income countries over the years. According to the WHO (2021), the global prevalence of obesity has tripled between 1975 and 2016. Obesity affects a person’s quality of life and increases healthcare spending due to its association with other chronic diseases. When the government spends a lot of funds on health care, it neglects other areas such as education, affecting society. Obesity occurs when the calories consumed is higher than the calories expelled (WHO, 2021). Therefore, people can prevent obesity by consuming food low in calories and engaging in adequate physical activity. People should ensure that they have at least an hour of physical activity every day to exercise. The most suitable exercise for weight loss is cardio exercises because one burns many calories compared to resistance training. People can also engage in activities that keep their bodies active throughout the day. For example, one can park their car at the far end of the office and use the stairs instead of the lift.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death globally. Diabetes occurs when a person’s body does not use the insulin it produces, referred to as type 2 diabetes, or the body does not produce enough insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar, referred to as type1 diabetes (Lin et al., 2020). High blood sugar can lead to severe damage to a person’s system, particularly blood vessels and nerves. Studies have indicated that diabetes is the primary cause of lower limb amputation, blindness, heart attacks, kidney failure and stroke. Diabetes is one of the most significant global health concerns due to its burden on public health and socio-economic development. In the United States, $1 in every $4 of the United States health care cost goes to taking care of people with diabetes (Lin et al., 2020). Treating and managing diabetes is expensive and can lead to financial strains for families. Research has shown that a person can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes onset by engaging in regular activities, avoiding tobacco use and having a healthy diet. Exercise can also increase the quality of life for people with diabetes because it lowers blood glucose levels and boosts the sensitivity of the body to insulin, reducing insulin resistance. Experts recommend combining aerobic and resistance training to yield better results than only doing one. One can join a group in doing exercises to maintain consistency because when one is alone, it can be tiring and boring, prompting one to quit. A person can also join dance workouts, which are fun and helpful to one’s health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in most countries, including the United States. Reports indicate that one in every four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease. Heart disease refers to several heart conditions, with coronary artery disease being the most common among American citizens, affecting the blood flow to the heart (Lavie et al., 2019). Heart disease can sometimes go undiagnosed until one experiences signs and symptoms of heart failure, heart attack or arrhythmia. The prevalence of heart disease has increased over the year due to sedentary behavior, which has led to high health care spending. The United States government spent approximately $ 363 billion on heart disease from 2016 to 2017, which would have been more beneficial to society if the government had directed the funds to other areas (Lavie et al., 2019). In the previous years, heart disease was mainly in the elderly, but today even young adults and children suffer from heart disease. Studies have shown that regular physical activities can prevent heart disease because they improve blood flow, lower heart rate and blood pressure and burn calories. Aerobic exercise is the most suitable form of exercise for the heart. Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week (Lavie et al., 2019). One can go swimming or play tennis with their friend if they are not feeling up to going to the gym or engaging in regular exercises.
The prevalence of chronic diseases has increased rapidly over the years due to sedentary behavior. People consume foods high in calories and are not engaging in regular physical activity. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease, although preventable, are some of the leading causes of death globally. The diseases were mainly present in the elderly, but today even young adults and children suffer from these illnesses. The prevalence of the disease has led to an increase in health care spending. They have also led to financial strains for families due to the ongoing treatment and management. Therefore, prevention of these illnesses is necessary and physical activity is one of the key ways people can prevent and successfully manage the diseases.
Lavie, C. J., Ozemek, C., Carbone, S., Katzmarzyk, P. T., & Blair, S. N. (2019). Sedentary behavior, exercise, and cardiovascular health. Circulation Research, 124(5), 799-815.
Lin, X., Xu, Y., Pan, X., Xu, J., Ding, Y., Sun, X., … & Shan, P. F. (2020). Global, regional, and national burden and trend of diabetes in 195 countries and territories: an analysis from 1990 to 2025. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-11.
Raghupathi, W., & Raghupathi, V. (2018). An empirical study of chronic diseases in the United States: a visual analytics approach to public health. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(3), 431.
World Health Organization. (2021). Obesity and Overweight. World Health Organization.