Many people dream of office jobs, desk jobs, or being paid to sit on a computer. Although this seems like a dream come true, having less body activity ruins your health. Besides diet and less pollution, the reason why our ancestors lived much longer is that they were more physically active. Imagine chasing a deer till it tires, is there a better workout than this?
A lifestyle that involves little or no body activity at all is known as a sedentary lifestyle. It can make you lose muscle mass, make bones weaker, increase the risk of diseases including heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.
What is a sedentary lifestyle?
This is a lifestyle that involves very little to no exercise, but rather a lot of sitting and lying down. In other words, spending too much time engaging in behaviors that expend very little energy In. The main cause of a sedentary lifestyle is usually screen time which is the time people spend looking at screens such as computers, computer monitors, and mobile phones.
A person living a sedentary lifestyle sits or lies down a lot while reading, playing video games, watching tv, using a mobile phone. There are also certain jobs that demand less body activity and these may include; driving jobs or desk jobs.
What causes sedentary behavior?
Some people get into a sedentary lifestyle out of passion but the nature of their jobs that calls for sitting Infront of a desk for long periods of time.
With the coronavirus pandemic, people are forced to stay in their homes which leads to sedentary behavior since there’s is nothing much to do other than watch Tv, work online, surf the internet or engage in conversation with family.
On the other hand, streamers or gamers that spend a lot of hours in Infront of screens also get into the sedentary lifestyle in such away.
Another cause of sedentary behavior is too much love for social media or watching Tv, where a person might spend up to almost 8 hours in a day going through feeds or watching Tv.
Excessive use of passive means of transport has also caused a sedentary lifestyle in many people. People take the long train or car drives to reach work and worst-case scenario when the job involves sitting Infront of a desk or computer.
In summary, office jobs, gaming hobbies, watching Tv, too much love for sleep, and the quarantine due to covid19 are the major causes of a sedentary lifestyle.
Sedentary lifestyle effects/What happens to your body when you are less active?
While you may be enjoying that sitting or desk job, driving back home and watching your favorite Tv show every day, it is killing you softly. A sedentary lifestyle has a lot of side effects on the body and general health.
A sedentary lifestyle affects the body in the following ways.
- When living a sedentary lifestyle, you will burn fewer calories and likely gain weight when the calories you consume are more than you burn.
- You will also lose muscle strength and endurance since you don’t challenge your muscles with tasks that make them stronger.
- The bones are more likely to get weaker and prone to fracturing.
- Poor blood circulation.
- Increased risk of inflammation.
- A sedentary lifestyle may also weaken your immune system leaving your body prone to diseases and attacks.
- Hormonal imbalances are also very common in people who are less physically active.
what are the health risks associated with an inactive lifestyle?
According to Wikipedia, ”At least 300,000 premature deaths, and $90 billion in direct healthcare costs are caused by obesity and sedentary lifestyle per year in the US alone.” The risk of diseases and premature death is higher in people who sit more than 5 hours per day.
Obesity is a medical condition where the body gains excessive amounts of body fat causing a negative effect on health.
The body makes fat when you consume more calories than you burn. A sedentary lifestyle makes you less active, burn fewer calories and increase chances of being obese.
Since a lot of calories are burned t through physical activities, when you are less active, the number of calories burned is usually minimal.
You will not become obese overnight but your body will keep accumulating or gaining fat to the extent of overweight and finally obesity if no action is done towards calorie restriction and exercises.
Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition or disease that occurs when blood glucose or blood sugar is too high.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to overweight or obesity which eventually increases the risk of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. From statistics, over 90% of diabetics are overweight.
Being less active increases insulin resistance and other conditions such as high blood pressure which all contribute to type diabetes development.
Increased risk of certain cancers.
According to a study published in NCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute to assess the relationship between Screen time, recreational sitting time, and occupational sitting with the risk of various cancers.
From a meta-analysis carried out by Daniela Schmid, Ph.D. and Dr. Michael Leitzman of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Regensburg, Germany, it was found out that people with a high sedentary level had a significantly high risk of three types of cancers compared to people with lower sedentary behaviors.
Cancers such as colon cancer, endometrial, and lung cancer were highly associated with people who are less active.
Watching Tv showed the strongest relationship to these cancers since it usually involves drinking sweetened drinks and eating junk foods.
From the researchers, ‘’ sedentariness has a detrimental impact on cancer even among physically active persons implies that limiting the time spent sedentary may play an important role in preventing cancer…”.
Increased cardiovascular disease.
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases since it is linked to diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, and hypertension which are great contributors to the development of cardiovascular diseases.
It is estimated that approximately 35% of coronary heart disease in the USA is due to a sedentary lifestyle from statistics by the New York State.
People who live a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to experience heart diseases such as coronary artery disease and heart attack.
According to an old study by NCBI. ”In men, riding in a car and combined time spent in these two sedentary behaviors were significant CVD mortality predictors. Additionally, high levels of physical activity were related to notably lower rates of CVD death even in the presence of high levels of sedentary behavior. Health promotion efforts targeting physically inactive men should emphasize both reducing sedentary activity and increasing regular physical activity for optimal cardiovascular health.”
It’s not to scare you but being a couch potato reduces your life span. Since it is also associated with diseases such as obesity, heart disease diabetes, and certain cancers, you are more likely to die if you do nothing on such a type of living.
A more physically active person is likely to be much healthier than a sedentary person. When you involve yourself in challenging activities such as workouts, your body becomes a lot much healthy since physical activities can burn fat, clear veins, sweat out toxins, and many different body activities that contribute to healthy living.
According to Science Daily, ”Two decades of a sedentary lifestyle is associated with a two times risk of premature death compared to being physically active, according to recent study results.”
How to fix a sedentary lifestyle.
Getting out of a sedentary lifestyle can be quite hard most especially for people who are used to it. Starting out slow can help you get from that lifestyle.
The more you do exercises, the better you get. Even doing a 5-minute workout each hour is better than doing none at all.
There are many exercises that you can do at home to help you get over the sedentary lifestyle. It is important to find exercises that work for you and those you are comfortable with.
Since a sedentary lifestyle is common in homes and at work, we shall break down different ways of overcoming a sedentary lifestyle at home and at work.
How to become more active at home.
With some countries still in lockdown, a sedentary lifestyle is more likely but there are things you can use to overcome the sedentary behaviors.
- Housework can be a great way to get off the couch. Doing chores like cleaning, doing laundry, cooking can give your body exercises it needs to stay active. Gardening can also be another great physical activity.
- While watching Tv, lift weights, do stretches, yoga poses, ride an exercise bike, or run on a treadmill to stay physically active. You can also choose to get rid of the remote and move to the TV when you have to change the channels.
- There are also apps that you can use to remind you when you have been seated in a place for so long. Fitness watches also have this feature that can help you kick out the sedentary lifestyle.
- Workout using videos on the TV or the internet. You can also get exercise equipment such as treadmills, exercise bikes, pulleys, or low budget equipment such as yoga balls, resistance bands, weights abs rollers to help you work out.
- Get reasons to move around the house for example while talking on the phone, doing most of your chores other than sending others, walking around the hood if it’s applicable.
How to be more physically active at work.
Long hours at work most especially when it’s a desk job can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. However, doing the activities below can help you overcome a sedentary lifestyle;
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator while at work.
- Use your lunch and other breaks to walk around the building. This will help you get some exercise.
- Walk to your colleagues for communication instead of calling, sending messages, or emails.
- Go get your coffee, smoothie, or water instead of having your colleague or assistant doing it for you. You can also choose to volunteer to bring your co-workers coffee all these efforts to help you get off your seat.
- Try a standing desk if it’s possible to have it in your office or working space. If you can’t have a standing desk, get every chance to stand and walk around.
The bottom line.
The covid lockdown, long hours on jobs that require sitting or indoor hobbies shouldn’t be an excuse to live a sedentary life. Stand up, walk or do home workouts during your breaks.
Exercise will not only help you beat sedentary behaviors but also help you lose weight and live a healthier life.
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