The Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Chances are you’re reading this while seated on a chair or couch. While the act of sitting in itself isn’t bad for your health, you should be worried about the consequences of moving too little.
Thanks to modern lifestyles and the convenience of technology, more people lead a sedentary lifestyle than ever before—despite being it linked to a range of chronic health conditions. According to various research studies, only about 5% of adults perform half an hour of physical activity per day.
The Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle
A growing body of research shows that physical inactivity is linked to several health risks. Studies indicate that leading a sedentary lifestyle can raise your risk of developing conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Certain cancers
- High cholesterol
- Increased feelings of anxiety and depression
- Metabolic syndrome
Whether from the conditions above or otherwise, those that lead sedentary lifestyles also tend to have shorter lifespans. A sedentary lifestyle can even cause psychological stress. People who sit for extended hours are significantly more likely to feel nervous, hopeless, restless, and distressed.
Making a Change
To avoid these effects, it’s crucial to reduce the amount of time you spend being sedentary. Adding exercise to your daily routine can have a positive impact on anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more. It also improves memory, sleep, mood, and relieves stress.
When using computers, phones, and tablets, we often lean into the screen, bending our necks and sitting in awkward positions. This is especially true if your job involves sitting at a desk for hours at a time. In the long run, your back, neck, shoulders, abdomen, and hips bear the brunt of it all.
A Penn State study found that sitting for as little as 4 hours straight can lead to compression and subsequent degeneration of the disks in your lower back, a common cause of back pain. Just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise or changing your position every 15 minutes or so can reduce the pressure on the disks and reduce back problems.
According to the American Cancer Society, prolonged sitting (six or more hours a day) is associated with a 19% higher rate of death from all causes combined compared to sitting less than 3 hours per day. As such, experts recommend spending time each day being physically active, even within the work environment.
Paths to an Active Lifestyle
The good news is that it’s never too late to get moving. Exercise doesn’t have to feel like a chore. If you’re just starting out, start small. Moderate forms of physical activity, such as brisk walking, will go a long way towards improving your health.
Anything that gets you moving is better than nothing. The trick is to find an activity that you enjoy. Viable options range from playing tennis and cycling to gardening, jogging, and dancing.
Once you’ve found a rhythm, you can keep adding more exercise gradually. Do what you can and try not to feel overwhelmed. You don’t have to go to the gym to be active, either. Simple adjustments to your lifestyle can help you achieve daily activity targets.
- Take a brisk walk in your neighborhood—consider walking your dog, or walk with a friend/relative
- Invest in exercise equipment for your home
- Work out at home
- Keep moving while watching TV
- Do some housework
- Spend your free time doing something physically active rather than browsing the internet or watching TV
How to Be More Active at Work
The American Heart Association states that sedentary jobs have increased by more than 80% since 1950. If you find yourself seated for much of your day, you’re not alone. Fitting physical activity into a busy schedule may seem impossible, but a few tips can help:
- Find out whether you can get a stand-up or treadmill desk
- Get up from your chair, stretch and move around at least once an hour
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Stand when you’re talking on the phone
- Take walks during lunch breaks
Although everyday activities like walking and standing burn calories, that’s not enough to offset the harm done by leading a sedentary lifestyle. It’s important to make a conscious effort to be more active. Many find pedometers help in this regard, as they can set step goals each day—and aim to surpass them. Many fitness trackers even allow you to challenge friends to activity contests to make getting active fun.
Get Help from Body Refined
Focus on small changes that add up over time. At Body Refined, we offer a comprehensive suite of lifestyle guidance plans to help you take control of your health. Our integrative health care approach is designed to ensure you achieve the maximum benefit for your overall wellbeing. We’ll guide you throughout the process and review your progress along the way. Call our team today at (844) 899-4846 or ask Skylar, the Body Refined bot, by clicking the message bubble to the bottom right corner of your screen to schedule a consultation.
Kurt Dixon is an educated, certified and experienced health consultant who is passionate about helping his client-patients achieve their goals by adjusting their lifestyle to promote a seamless, healthy living. His experience covers healthcare, pharmaceutical, money management, telecommunications & customer service industries. He is also the founder of Body Refined and the Lifestyle Management program, an integrated consortium of measures addressing life balance, eating healthier, physical wellness and career management.