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  • Writer's pictureDavid Thibodeau

Sports and Health

As efforts to vaccinate people for COVID-19 ramp up around the world we thought that it was important to revisit an idea that was brought up in Sports for SDG #3 Good Health and Well-Being.

There are several studies that show regular physical activity can help boost the immune system, even without vaccines, but a new study from the Glasgow Caledonian University found that you are 50% more likely to have higher antibodies after a vaccine if you are active compared to somebody who is inactive. Being active helps give your immune system a boost, and getting the vaccine helps protect you even more.

Studies around the world show how inactivity has great health care costs. In Canada, a study from 2004 estimated that “the cost of physical inactivity in Canada at $5.3 billion and the cost of obesity in Canada at $4.3 billion in health care expenditures.” In 2009 the “3 most expensive chronic diseases, in Canada, attributable to physical inactivity were coronary artery disease ($2.7 billion), type 2 diabetes ($1.4 billion), and stroke ($1.1 billion)”.

In the UK, “societal costs of inactivity were estimated in 2008 at £8.2bn per year including costs to NHS, sickness absence and premature death”, there is an additional cost of £2.5bn related to inactivity-related obesity.

The WHO reports that “people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active” and that “levels of inactivity are twice as high in high-income countries compared to low-income countries.” Globally, physical inactivity costs to healthcare systems is estimated to be “$58.2 billion in 2013. $31.2 billion of this was paid by the public sector, $12.9 billion by the private sector and $9.7 billion by households”.

The costs of physical inactivity to both the healthcare systems and our own personal wellbeing is great. Being physically active not only helps reduce the strain on our healthcare systems, it also makes us feel good. Exercise helps improve our moods. It can help boost our confidence and improve our self-esteem. Being active boosts our energy and boosts our strength. It also helps us sleep better, which then makes us feel better during the day.

Many studies also now show that even if you are doing the WHO recommended amount of physical activity (different recommended amounts for each age group), you should still get up every hour and be active.

There are many benefits of getting active. Physical inactivity is a great challenge that needs to be overcome.


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