Dr. Joseph M. Perlman Advanced Plastic Surgery Centre

Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity is often associated with a host of health risks, but one particularly serious consequence is the increased risk of pulmonary embolism (PE). This condition occurs when a blood clot, typically originating in the legs (deep vein thrombosis), travels to the lungs and obstructs blood flow.

Understanding Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. When a blood clot lodges in the arteries of the lungs, it can disrupt blood flow, causing potentially severe complications such as lung damage and even death if not promptly treated.

The Role of Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of blood clot formation. Here’s how physical inactivity can contribute to an increased risk of pulmonary embolism:

  1. Blood Circulation: Physical activity promotes healthy blood circulation, which helps prevent blood clots from forming in the veins.
  2. Venous Stasis: Prolonged periods of sitting or immobility can lead to venous stasis, where blood pools in the veins of the legs, increasing the likelihood of clot formation.
  3. Muscle Contraction: Movement and exercise stimulate the contraction of leg muscles, which assists in pushing blood back towards the heart and prevents clotting.

Risk Factors for Pulmonary Embolism

Several factors can increase the risk of developing pulmonary embolism, including:

  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting or bed rest.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can strain the cardiovascular system and contribute to clot formation.
  • Smoking: Increases the risk of clot formation and cardiovascular disease.
  • Certain Medical Conditions: Such as cancer, heart disease, and genetic predispositions to clotting disorders.

Preventive Measures

To reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism associated with physical inactivity, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, to promote circulation and overall cardiovascular health.
  • Take Breaks: If you have a sedentary job, take frequent breaks to stretch and move around.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a risk factor for many health conditions, including pulmonary embolism. Maintain a balanced diet and exercise regularly to manage weight.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated to help prevent blood from thickening and forming clots.


Physical inactivity poses significant risks to cardiovascular health, including an increased risk of pulmonary embolism. By prioritizing regular exercise, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and being aware of the dangers of prolonged sitting, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your health.

Remember, prevention and awareness are key in reducing the risk of pulmonary embolism and promoting overall well-being. Stay active, stay informed, and prioritize your cardiovascular health.

Take a step towards better health today—move more, sit less, and protect your heart.