The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle are numerous, and different individuals can experience some or all of these effects. What is meant by a sedentary lifestyle? A sedentary lifestyle is one where the individual is not taking part in an adequate amount of physical activity on a regular basis.
According to the CDC, the minimum recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. This can also be achieved by walking a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. More than half of the world’s population is not getting enough physical exercise on a daily basis. So what is the impact of this?
Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Worldwide, a sedentary lifestyle has been identified as the major cause of around 7% of type 2 diabetes cases, 6% of coronary heart disease cases, 10% of colon cancers, and 10% of breast cancers. A lack of physical activity is responsible for more deaths annually than smoking. The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle include these health issues:
• High blood pressure
• Cardiovascular disease
• Increased risk of stroke
• Elevated cholesterol levels
• Increased risk of certain cancers
• Reduction in skeletal muscle mass which can result in osteoporosis
• Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
• Anxiety and depression
• Reduced cognitive function
• Metabolism disorders
• Reduced libido
• Sleep problems
Why Have People Become More Sedentary?
The main factor for people becoming more sedentary is technological advancement. People commute using services whereby they are passively transported, jobs require more time sitting behind a desk and even at home, people spend time on the computer, playing games or watching TV. In the past, more than 50% of jobs involved a lot of activity, but this is now down to around 25%. This means that around 75% of working people are mostly sedentary at work. People also work longer hours, which means that they spend more time sitting down.
How Can We Reverse This Trend?
While many people will head to the gym or sports club after work, many people feel that they just do not have time to exercise. There are ways to improve the amount of physical activity while at work. You can look at having a treadmill or bike desk if your office allows for it, which allows you to exercise and work at the same time. Or find out about a standing desk, which can also help reduce the amount of time spent sitting.
If these are not possible, you can always get up and walk around for a few minutes. Take the stairs. Park further away if you drive to work so that you have to walk further to the office. Use a wearable step counter and try and meet your step count daily, even if you have to pace around in your office. Any exercise is better than none at all.
The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle are becoming more and more apparent as people spend more time sitting than ever before. This can only be mitigated by people actively ensuring that they get a certain amount of exercise every week. Even five minutes of physical activity every few hours can have a marked effect on overall health. Where possible, try and set aside the time to do at least 30 minutes of exercise, five times per week. But if this is not possible, do as much as you can, whenever you can. Your body and mind will be much better off in the long run.
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