aches and pain

5 Health Risks Due to Pandemic-Induced Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity has always been regarded to have serious implications for people’s health, according to the World Health Organization. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year, people were essentially forced to stay inside their homes which may have encouraged some people to lead sedentary lifestyles. This led to what experts call “pandemic-induced physical inactivity” as the lockdown restrictions reduced public access to physical activity opportunities like visiting gyms, public parks, pools, and sports centers.

Lack of physical activity has clearly been shown to be a risk factor for a lot of conditions. The problem is, many people are not aware of those risks. So, how exactly does an inactive lifestyle affect your body? Let’s enumerate some of the risks:

Chronic Health Problems

Failing to exercise can contribute to the development of chronic medical conditions. According to a report released by the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of disease and disability around the world. The worst part is, these could be chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

We are currently in a waiting game in terms of vaccinations for COVID-19, which means many people are still stuck in their homes, with very little motivation to go out and exercise. These conditions could actually lead to some people developing mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Obesity and Weight Issues

Maintaining an optimal weight during the pandemic can be quite a challenge. With very limited choices of retailers, grocery stores, and food service establishments, staying healthy and active was difficult, to say the least. As such, people resorted to eating less healthy options while others ate whatever was available to survive the lengthy lockdowns. That combined with the lack of exercise leads to obesity and weight issues, which increases the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Weight problems are also associated with reduced quality of life and poorer mental health.

Increased Risk of Osteoporosis

One of the lesser-known risks associated with an inactive lifestyle is developing bone problems. Osteoporosis, a chronic health condition where the bones of the body get thinner and more brittle, is linked with a lack of exercise. With most of the population spending hours upon hours sitting behind a desk and working from home, the probability of developing osteoporosis is at an all-time high. This is further compounded by the fact that some people in a remote working setup tend to work longer hours as the boundary between home and work is blurred.

Chronic Aches and Pains

As mentioned above, working long hours behind a computer is bound to cause some detrimental effects to an individual. Lower back pain, stiff neck, and nerve compression due to awkward postures are just some of the possible risks when living a sedentary lifestyle. According to a large population study published by the National Institute of Health, physically active individuals are less likely to develop chronic pain.

Mental Health Problems

As the uncertainty and insolation brought about by the COVID-19 lockdowns take a toll on many individuals, the risks of having mental health problems are that much higher now than ever. Add to that is the physical inactivity that was also the result of the pandemic. This increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems associated with spending more than a year of inactivity. 


With all the risks associated with physical inactivity listed above, you should understand just how crucial it is for you to find ways to stay active and healthy. As most countries expect to get their vaccinations within the next few months and beyond, this is the perfect time to devise ways to bring back your active lifestyle.

For more health-promoting tips and articles, check out Aspen Medical Center’s blog. We are the only locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe, NM, offering a range of services, including vaccinations, sports physicals, and urgent care services. Whenever you need help from a primary care doctor and other specialists, contact Aspen Medical Center. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Low Back Pain

Most people will not make it through life without suffering from back pain at some point in time. Back pain can occur in different areas of the back, but low back pain is particularly common. More than 30% of U.S. adults report having had low back pain within the previous three months. Most episodes of back pain will improve within 6 weeks or less, but some people develop chronic low back pain (low back pain lasting more than three months).

There are many different potential causes of low back pain but it can generally be prevented by learning how to improve your posture as well as proper techniques for lifting and exercising.

Sometimes back pain can be serious. Contact your doctor immediately or come to Aspen Medical Center to be evaluated if:

  • Pain goes down your leg below your knee
  • Your leg, foot, groin or rectal area feels numb
  • You have fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness or sweating
  • You lose control over your ability go to the bathroom (to urinate or defecate)
  • Your pain was caused by an injury
  • Your pain is so intense you can’t move around

What causes low back pain? A muscle strain or spasm, sprains of ligaments (which attach bone to bone), joint problems or a “slipped disk” can all cause low back pain. A common cause of low back pain is using your back muscles in activities you’re not used to, such as lifting heavy furniture or doing yard work. Unexpected events such as falling or a being involved in a car accident can also cause low back pain.

A slipped (also called a herniated) disk happens when a disk between the vertebrae (or bones of the spine) bulges and presses on a nerve coming out of the spinal cord. Sometimes people who have a slipped disk don’t know what caused it or sometimes it comes from an activity such as lifting while twisting. Most of the time, slipped disks and other low back pain can be relieved by following a few simple methods.

Back pain can generally be treated with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Gentle stretches or exercises such as yoga can be helpful as well. Using a heating pad for 20 or 30 minutes can help with painful muscle spasms. Ice packs and massage can also be helpful. Weight loss is another way to help improve low back pain over time.

For chronic low back pain, acupuncture has been shown to be a helpful treatment. Multiple studies have shown acupuncture provides significant pain relief in people with chronic low back pain. The Joint Commission, an independent non-profit organization that accredits and certifies 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, recommends acupuncture as an treatment option for pain management. We offer low-cost acupuncture at Aspen Wellness (, phone: 505-466-5887). Often multiple or ongoing treatments are necessary to improve and maintain some level of pain relief. Acupunctureis a safe and healthy alternative to other treatments like narcotic painkillers which have multiple risks but are sometimes used for chronic low back pain. 

Get out and exercise

Get out and Exercise!

Regular exercise is one of the keys to living a healthy life. Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we are blessed with 300 sunny days per year. Although it can get cold at times in the winter, there are opportunities to stay physically active, whether indoors or outdoors, year-round.

There are multiple benefits to exercise. I have often joked that if I could put all the benefits of exercise into a pill and sell that pill, I would become an instant multi-millionaire! Unfortunately, at this time, no such pill has been developed so you actually need to get up off the couch and move your body to get the benefits.

What are these benefits? According to the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

physical activity can help:
Control Your Weight.
Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
Reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers.
Strengthen Your Bones and Muscles.
Improve Your Mental Health and Mood.
Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
Increase your chances of living longer
See this link for more details:

What kind of exercise is right for you? That is a complicated question. If you have any concerns about possible heart disease or a heart problem, you should consult your doctor or health care provider before starting any rigorous exercise program. If you like, call Aspen Medical Center Urgent Care & Primary Care for an appointment or just walk in.

I suggest finding some type of exercise you enjoy. Walking, for many people, is an easy and accessible form of exercise. I walk to work everyday. One common recommendation is to try to get 10,000 steps a day. There are many apps and devices to help achieve this goal or the goal can be individualized. You can join the Aspen Wellness Walkers, sponsored by Aspen Wellness, our acupuncture clinic and wellness center. We usually sponsor a walk somewhere in Santa Fe every weekend. For more information, go to

Other types of exercise include rock climbing, hiking, swimming, biking, skiing, and jogging. Some people like to dance. Others play sports such as basketball, soccer, pickle ball, volleyball, softball, or tennis. Others like yoga, Tai Chi, or Zumba. I believe there is an appropriate exercise for everyone. All you have to do is start. Ideally try to work up to an average of at least 30 active minutes (e.g brisk walking) 5 days a week. This can do wonders for your mood and your overall health. Good luck!