Staying in Motion: The Negative Impact of Immobility

by | Dec 25, 2016 | Baltimore Physical Therapy, Returning to Sports | 0 comments

Why Staying Active Matters

One of our favorite parts of this time of the year involves eating turkey and sitting by the fire drinking warm apple cider. We find ourselves parking closer to our given destinations, and we often avoid those long walks at lunch so we don’t have to withstand the piercing cold winds that are slowly beginning to encroach on us. However, this is also the time of year when we often forget about the detrimental effects of immobility.

Immobility and sedentary behaviors have been linked to many medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Long term effects of immobility can have an impact on our musculoskeletal, neurological, and cardiopulmonary systems.

Musculoskeletal Effects

Over time, a decrease in gravitational forces results in generalized weakness (muscle atrophy). In addition, bone is laid down in the direction of the stresses that it must withstand. A decrease in loading forces on our bones may lead to a loss of bone mass resulting in weaker bones. This can result in osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures over time. A lack of weight bearing exercise can also effect children’s ability to achieve peak bone mass and attain normal skeletal development.couch-potato

Cardiovascular Effects

Immobility is also associated with orthostatic hypotension, which is a decrease in blood pressure when you change positions. This can result in increased heart rate and enhance your risk for falls and postural instability. Immobility can also result in cardiac deconditioning since your heart now has to work harder to compensate for an increase in heart rate.

Neurological Effects

Immobility has been found to be associated with a decrease in balance and coordination. It may also result in prolonged reaction times and, therefore, increase your fall risk. A lack of activity has been linked to altered sleep patterns, depression, and mood swings.

Although these are long term effects of immobility, it is important to be aware of the detrimental effects of sedentary behaviors so you can make lifestyle changes today. It is essential to include physical activity in your daily schedule even as the seasons change and the weather begins to get colder. So get up and get moving today!

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