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Using Summer to Implement Lifestyle Changes & Avoid Inactive Lifestyles
Health & Wellness

Using Summer to Implement Lifestyle Changes & Avoid Inactive Lifestyles

July 28, 2022

Midwestern winters can lead to too much time spent inside and too much time sitting. With the beautiful weather of summer, now is a great time to implement healthy lifestyle changes.

Consequences of an Inactive Lifestyle

Research has connected an inactive lifestyle with many negative health outcomes including a significantly increased risk for mortality.

Sedentary behaviors, such as sitting at a desk and watching television, are risk factors for chronic health problems such as:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental fatigue
  • Stress

A recent estimate in the United States noted that 43.3% of the total population qualified as sedentary, which is the largest percentage of any country’s population in the world. An estimated 5.3 million premature deaths per year worldwide are attributed to physically inactive lifestyles. In addition to premature death, physical inactivity increases healthcare costs for individuals, as well as the overall healthcare system.

How Increased Activity Benefits Our Health

In medicine, we often weigh the potential benefit of treatment with the risk of side effects. Many wish for a fix with only health benefits and no side effects. The good news is this does exist and it is physical activity!

Some benefits of regular physical activity are immediate, including decreased stress levels, decreased blood pressure, improved immune system functioning and restored attention. Other benefits are more long-term such as weight loss, improvement in depression symptoms and overall wellness.

Health Benefits of Nature

When time is spent outside, it can lead to specific health benefits that come through contact with the natural elements including helping improve mental and emotional health, lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and a strengthened immune system. Plus, outdoor activities such as hiking are economical and convenient for most people.

Studies have shown that simply being exposed to nature, even in passive ways, has clear benefits. One study demonstrated viewing nature through a hospital window decreased recovery time and pain medication requests in addition to increasing the general well-being of patients recovering from surgery.

Recreation in North Dakota

In North Dakota, we have many opportunities for encounters with nature. North Dakota is home to 13 state parks as well as several other recreation areas and historical sites including Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

North Dakota Parks and Recreation is holding a 2022 Adventure Challenge with 22 challenges to complete across the state through October 15, 2022. You can post photos of your adventures on their Facebook page and see the progress of others completing their challenges as well! The North Dakota Parks and Recreation website is an excellent resource to learn about outdoor opportunities available in our state for you, your family and your friends.

See You on the Trails

Regular exercise and spending time in the North Dakota outdoors can be the first step to sustainable long-term health benefits and improving your current, and future, quality of life. I challenge everyone to take advantage of these neat outdoor opportunities. See you on the trails!

About the Author

Daniel Hoy is originally from West Fargo, N.D. He attended medical school at the University of North Dakota and completed his residency in Family Medicine at Altru Health System. In his free time, Daniel likes to hike and camp at national parks, golf, hunt, fish and spend time at his family lake cabin.

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