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Technological advances are both a blessing and a curse. Modern society potentially ages the body faster and an inactive lifestyle potentially makes it harder to become active, forming a negative feedback loop. As technology improves, people perform less physical activity to survive, for leisure or for a job.

I like to equate physical activity and exercise with Newton’s first law, which states an object at rest and object in motion remain in their state, unless acted upon with a force great enough to overcome inertia. If a person is inactive they are a likely to stay an inactive, and if a person is active they are more likely to stay active. A recent Korean study, examining activity at a person’s occupation and physical activity found that jobs with higher levels of movement, like machine workers and fisherman, had higher levels of physical activity than more sedentary office workers and managers (So, Yoo, & Sung, 2016). The more active a person is at work the more likely they are to be active in their free time.

As a person ages their muscle function decreases. Nair (2005) outlines that progressive mitochondrial DNA damage leads to reduced ATP production, which decreases in a person’s activity drive, reducing the amount of exercise a person engages in, which lessens mitochondrial biogenesis, leading to decreases in muscular size, strength and endurance, and contributes to metabolic disorders. The aging process is correlated with less spontaneous physical activity, and muscle structural and functional degeneration. These factors compound one another and decreased physical activity leads to decreased muscle function, and decreased muscle function leads to decreased physical activity (Nair,2005).

The body only produces as much ATP as it needs. ATP production in anerobic activity is dependent on muscle content of PCr, the muscles buffer capacity and the volume of the contracting muscle mass (Sahlin, 2014). The amount a person is active depends on their amount of activity. Buttgereit and Brand (1995) concluded that ATP production is geared to essential activity first and nonessential activities like exercise later. If a person does not engage in moderate ATP production through anaerobic physical activity, their capability to produce ATP decreases.

Aging is inevitable with the passage of time. There are significant decreases in muscle function and physical activity when a person gets older. Inactive labor, that makes up a large percentage of workers and their day, contribute to the aging process, through a significant reduction in physical activity, which leads to decreased ATP production, decreased desire to be active, and muscle weakness. The entire work day needs to be restructured with more physical activity for sedentary office workers, to slow down the aging process, and help prevent the development of metabolic disorders. Making workers more active will likely increase their amounts of exercise outside of work, and lessen the affects of cellular aging.

References

Buttgereit, F., & Brand, M. D. (1995). A hierarchy of ATP-consuming processes in mammalian cells. The Biochemical Journal, 312(1), 163-167.

Sahlin, K. (2014). Muscle energetics during explosive activities and potential effects of nutrition and training. Sports Medicine, 44(S2), 167-173.

So, W., Yoo, B., & Sung, D. J. (2016). The relationship between occupational status and physical activity in Korea. Social Work in Public Health, 31(6), 490-497.

Nair, K. S. (2005). Aging muscle. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(5), 953-963.