Sedentary lifestyle or an inactive lifestyle is one of the biggest threats to your health. The sedentary lifestyle involves sitting or being at rest for too long with little or no exercise.
Basically, sitting is a normal human body posture, and when people work, socialise, study or travel, they often do so in a seated position. It’s second nature.
Physical activity and regular exercise are essential for optimum health. But many fail to add enough exercise to their daily schedule.
According to the World Health Organisation, “Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety”.
However, it’s the amount of sitting that’s the problem as it can be harmful if you do too much of it – and these days, our lifestyles encourage most people to sit more.
In this article, you will understand the harmful effects of following a sedentary lifestyle.
Harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle
1. Leads to obesity
Being couch potatoes by sitting in front of our screens or long duration of physical inactivity all day creates room for obesity to kick in. Being obese has its own side effects. Obesity is linked with many serious diseases and health conditions such as sleep apnea, joint pain, risk of stroke, heart disease risk, hypertension and more.
2. It makes you prone to heart diseases
Sedentary behaviour can lead to high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels and increase in blood sugar levels, which in turn damage the walls of the blood vessels increasing the risk of a heart attack.
3. Likely to develop dementia, anxiety and depression
When you are sluggish for too long, your mental health tends to suffer too as it increases the chances of stress, restlessness and depression. This condition is more likely in adolescents and adults because they are more likely to spend more time looking at screens. Many also follow an unhealthy diet and poor sleep schedule. These factors can worsen the condition.
4. Increase in chances of cancer
Being physically inactive and long hours of sitting can increase the risk of certain cancers including colon, breast and lung cancer.
Your bones and muscles are made to work. The sedentary behaviour and an inactive lifestyle affect your body’s regulation. And can make the bones weaker, which is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis.
6. Little or no flexibility
Sedentary lifestyle can lead to loss of flexibility as the flow of blood is comparatively slow through firm and bound muscles. It can also cause inflammation and pain. There can also be pressure on the disks in your lower back, which is a common reason for backache.
Tips to move more throughout the day
- Do more physical activity – go for running, cycling or play outdoor sport.
- Exercise daily – it is advised to exercise for at least 30 mins a day.
- Take the stairs instead of using an elevator.
- Prefer taking phone calls outside and walking while talking.
- Park your vehicle away from your workplace so that you can walk there.
- Spend more time doing your house chores or gardening.
- Take walk breaks instead of another tea break.
Sitting, doing things like driving, working at a desk or watching television is spent over half of the average person’s day. In fact, the typical office worker may spend up to a whopping 15 hours per day sitting. Agricultural workers, on the other hand, only sit for about three hours a day – sitting does not burn plenty of calories.
Your everyday non-exercise activities, like standing, walking and even fidgeting, still burn calories. This energy expenditure is known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), the lack of which is an important risk factor for weight gain.
Sedentary behaviour, like sitting or lying down, involves very little energy expenditure. It severely limits the calories you burn through NEAT. When it comes to weight management, the fewer calories you burn, the more likely you are to gain weight.
This is why sedentary behaviour is so closely linked to obesity. In fact, research shows that obese individuals sit for an average of two hours longer each day than lean people do.