Unfortunately, many of us are stuck in an office job that requires more sitting than moving around, or if we’re at home, there are plenty of opportunities to sit on the couch or lie on the bed. Other factors that contribute to sedentary lifestyles include a lack of available space for exercise, and an increase in available entertainment on devices, apps, and television.

Sedentary lifestyles have become a public health issue, causing various health problems, including chronic diseases. One of the most common issues arising from a sedentary lifestyle is that it can slow down and affect your metabolism.

Does that matter? Yes, it does, and here’s why.

Why Metabolism Matters

Metabolism refers to all the chemical processes that allow the body to break down molecules and synthesize compounds that the cells need to convert into energy.

Or, put another way, it’s how your food is converted into fuel. Several factors affect your body’s metabolism, such as physical activity, age, gender, and hormone function.

Metabolism allows the body to function normally, which is called homeostasis. It’s an important series of processes in the body that break down nutrients, build muscles, repair cells, and much more. When an individual’s metabolism isn’t working properly, it disrupts essential chemical processes, leading to health problems.

Effects of Sedentary Lifestyle on Metabolism

Physical activities help the body to burn calories at a faster rate even when the person is at rest. Yes, even when you sleep you burn calories. Your body doesn’t stop working, doing what it needs to do to keep you breathing and living.

When your body regularly lacks physical activity, your metabolism slows down. Consequently, it affects the body’s ability to properly regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It also impairs the body’s ability to burn fat, reduces insulin sensitivity, and diminishes vascular function.

An impaired metabolism can lead to a range of health problems, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, depression, and cognitive impairment.

You’ll know that your metabolism has likely slowed down if you experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • You’ve gained weight and can’t shed the extra pounds.
  • You always feel tired even when you think you’ve had plenty of rest.
  • You experience migraines or frequent headaches.
  • You’re often in a bad mood.
  • You seem to be forgetful.
  • You always crave sugar and unhealthy carbs, such as fried foods and bread.

What to Do to Avoid Developing a Slow Metabolism

Reducing sedentary behaviors and increasing physical activities are key to improving your metabolism. We’re not even talking about comprehensive workout routines. Simple movements, such as walking and standing can help you burn calories and keep your metabolism more active too.

  • Avoid sitting for long hours. When working at your computer, stand up every 30 minutes and do some stretching.
  • Take a walk during your lunch break. It will also help you digest your food better.
  • Engage in hobbies or sports that will get you moving around, such as gardening or golf.
  • Find time for exercise every single day.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Find something to do at home, such as cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the carpet, or changing the look of your living area.

Aside from physical activities, there are other steps you can do to avoid a slowing metabolism.

  • Don’t cut down your calorie intake drastically. Do it gradually so as not to trigger a starvation response.
  • Eat protein-rich foods, which help the body burn calories. Through the thermic effect, your metabolism temporarily increases after digestion.
  • Get high-quality sleep. Insufficient sleep slows down your metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Make sure you get uninterrupted sleep every night.

It’s time to make some changes and reduce the time you spend being sedentary and increase your physical activities, which can help improve your metabolism and lower the risks of many diseases. If you’re living a sedentary life, it’s time to get moving. Start with our tips above and work your way up to a more active lifestyle and a healthier you.