We all know how harmful not exercising can be, but is it as bad as smoking or a poor diet? That's the claim a new study published in the Lancet Medical Journal makes. It says about one out of every ten premature deaths globally is caused by not being physically active. Doctors say that's easily fixable, if people choose to do it.
Unfortunately Kern County is not a place known for its good health. According to the county health department, more than 60 percent of our population is obese and the county leads the state in coronary heart disease deaths, but you may be surprised by just how little exercise you have to do to make the change from unhealthy to healthy.
About once a week, Matt Cieri and Greg Geise are spending their lunch break battling it out on the tennis court.
"It's a nice day, not too hot yet. So we usually come out around lunch and hit the balls around," said Cieri.
It's become part of their exercise routine a way to get a quick workout but doctors say people like Cieri and Geise are in the minority in places like Kern County where heart problems run rampant.
"Every second person we are seeing for a heart problem is obese. Nonetheless, we see patients who are not obese and still have heart problems," said Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Sarabjeet Chhabra.
Dr. Chhabra, with Central Cardiology in Bakersfield, says the chief culprit in many patients' cases is a lack of physical activity. A problem he says is just as bad as poor diet or smoking is on your health.
"This is endemic to cardiovascular problems and it is first or second highest in the county for heart attacks," said Dr. Chhabra.
It's a problem officials with the Kern County Health Department are trying to fight. They recently started a new call to action program designed to encourage different groups to incorporate physical activity into their routines. Ideas like using break times at work to walk around or simple activities people can do around the house.
"There's many ways we can by physically at work, at home with our kids, playing, dancing, walking the dog, even cleaning house or doing yard work," said Mariel Emhdipour, Director of Health Promotion. "That's all physical activity and sometimes we forget about that."
Doctors say you only need about 15 to 20 minutes of moderate exercise to see the benefit. For people like Cieri, a little exercise goes a long way.
"I've lost like 70 pounds over the last year or so. I've started adding in this stuff and a little bit of healthier eating has been pretty big," said Cieri.
The health department has a number of other creative ways to introduce exercise into your daily routine and ideas for encouraging exercise at work. For more information you can go to:http://psbweb.co.kern.ca.us/PH_Internet/pdfs/cd/CallToActionPlan2010.pdf