Dr Wendi’s Health

Normal Aging or Sedentary Lifestyle?

Normal Aging or Sedentary Lifestyle?

The following is a list of things we commonly associate with aging, but are these natural processes that are inevitable?  No.  They are actually caused by not moving enough. 

If you include at least 30 min of moderate exercise 3-5 times per week, with at least one session being some weight-bearing exercises and 1 session being higher intensity so that you get out of breath, then you can very significantly reduce ALL of the issues listed below.

It is also important to move around frequently during every single day.  If you work at a desk and sit a lot, it would be highly beneficial to get up and walk around for a few minutes every 30 min, and stretch a few muscles while you’re at it. 

A really interesting book on this topic is called Sitting kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos who was a NASA scientist that studied the effects of lack of gravity on astronauts and extrapolates her findings to sedentary lifestyles.


  • Loss of 1% of bone density per year
  • Loss of 1% of muscle mass per year – 90 year olds that did a weight training program increased their bone density and muscle mass in 12 weeks
  • Decrease joint fluid, therefore increased friction, inflammation and then joint pain – movement is the stimulus for cells in joints to produce synovial fluid that protects the joints, this decreases within hours of not moving around
  • Tendons and ligaments get weak, therefore increased potential for injury
  • Increase calcium excretion – this can occur within 1 day of total bed rest.
  • Testosterone production decreases – causes decreased muscle strength, affects mood, contributes to impotence
  • Growth hormone production decreases – causes increased overall aging in every tissue because old cells are not replaced
  • Skin becomes loose and flabby because less connective tissue collagen proteins are produced

Cardiovascular system and Metabolism

  • Blood pressure cannot be regulated quickly and leads to dizziness when standing from lying down position (called orthostatic hypotension)
  • Cardiac output decreased and heart muscle mass decreases
  • Aerobic fitness level decreases
  • The liver stops producing LIPOPROTEIN LIPASE, this is important! – without this enzyme, our body can’t break down stored fat.  This is why many people feel so much fatigue if they go on a low carb diet, their bodies can’t break down fat for energy.
  • Increased LDLs, and decrease HDLs – leads to heart disease
  • Insulin production increases – insulin is not just related to eating carbs, although being sedentary AND eating a high carb diet would be a lot worse. Increased insulin tells cells to store fat, this also occurs in blood vessels and causes cardiovascular disease. Insulin regulation is affected by 3 days of total inactivity, but it can be reversed with physical activity.
  • Weight gain, because of loss of lipoprotein lipase and the increased insulin that tells cells to store fat – Obese mice put in a 2X gravity environment lost all extra body fat even though they ate more food! We can put 2G forces on our body just standing up and moving around at least 35 times throughout the day, at least once every 30 min.

Nervous system

  • Brain cells decrease connections, neurons die, and you gradually lose mental alertness, memory, and you begin to lose your sense of balance (reason why more elderly people fall) – we can grow new neurons from stem cells, stimulated by physical activity and thinking/learning
  • Inability to sleep properly. If you wake up multiple times per night then you might need to think about increasing your physical activity during the day.   
  • Decreased inner ear sensors that detect body position (to increase this again, you can do movements and balance exercises with your eyes closed, it forces the vestibular system to function). Also, yoga is really great for stimulating proprioception – your body’s ability to be aware of its position.
  • Slowed reaction time and reflexes


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