Different circumstances, perhaps even out of your control, may have led you to live a sedentary lifestyle. If you have been sedentary for a while, it’s time to make a change! Sitting for extended hours every day is putting your health at risk. It’s actually a big risk and can lead to a reduction in your lifespan.
The problem is so serious that the World Health Organization has warned about the dangers of physical inactivity, saying that millions of premature deaths every year can be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle.*
What are the Risks of Sedentary Behavior to Your Physical Health?
Being sedentary can lead to a wide range of physical health issues, including some of the following:
Leads to Obesity
A sedentary lifestyle affects your metabolism and reduces your ability to control blood sugar levels. When you regularly don’t move actively, your body responds by slowing down the rate at which it utilizes or metabolizes available blood sugar.
You burn fewer calories, so you gain weight because your body retains the fat and sugar. Unfortunately, a sedentary person is also more likely to consume more calories than is needed to power their body through their day. This is the double whammy that contributes to obesity and too often, Type 2 diabetes.
Affects Heart Health
Sitting for extended hours can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Your body’s ability to regulate blood pressure declines, and as you gain weight, your heart has to work harder.
Bones and Muscles Become Weaker
Physical activities strengthen the bones and muscles, and if you are sedentary, it has the opposite effect. It makes muscles weaker. Your bones also lose mineral content, making them weaker and more easily broken.
The lack of enough physical load on the skeleton can lead to osteoporosis, and prolonged sitting shortens your hip flexor muscles and causes hip joint pain. If you have poor posture, your back will suffer and your spine health may degenerate prematurely.
Weakens the Immune System
When you have an inactive lifestyle, your immune system can get weaker, making you vulnerable to infections and illnesses. You can also develop chronic inflammation in various parts of the body.
Leads to Poor Blood Circulation
Sitting for long hours prevents your blood from properly circulating. The blood remains in your legs and feet longer than it should, and when the blood doesn’t circulate properly, it means that other parts of your body are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Your legs can swell and cause other health problems too.
Increases Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Physical inactivity doubles your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sedentary behavior makes your body more insulin-resistant, so your blood sugar levels remain elevated. A lack of exercise and poor diet are the biggest contributors to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Leads to Cancer
A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to some types of cancer, such as colon cancer and breast cancer. Higher blood sugar levels have been associated with increased risks of some cancers.
What Can You Do to Avoid Sedentary Behaviors?
Sitting for long hours can affect your physical health significantly, and it can be challenging to fit in exercise workout routines. Whether you don’t feel like it, or you are a person chained to an office desk and always busy, you need to exercise.
If you can get moving it will help decrease your risks of developing diseases, such as those mentioned above.
Here are some tips to get you moving more and prevent sedentary behaviors.
- When working, stand up every after 20 minutes and walk around for a minute or two.
- Stretch and exercise every day.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
- Do standing or walking meetings.
- Park your car a little farther from the building entrance.
- Ride a bicycle or walk to work.
- Don’t sit after meals.
- Take a walk after lunch.
- Stand up during coffee breaks.
- Walk around while taking phone calls.
- Track your daily steps and try to double your current record. Keep upping your score until you achieve your desired number of steps every day.
- Invest in a standing work desk.
If you add a few minutes each day to your routine, it won’t be long before you have made the time needed to fit exercise into your schedule. Those few extra minutes each day added to your daily physical activities can help you counter the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Make conscious efforts to move more and avoid sitting for long hours. Track your activities and monitor your progress. If you’ve been sedentary for too long, don’t shock your body by doing an hour of exercise suddenly. Set incremental goals and start small.
* Source: https://www.who.int/news/item/04-04-2002-physical-inactivity-a-leading-cause-of-disease-and-disability-warns-who