How can an inactive lifestyle lead to health problems?
A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle involving little or no physical activity. A person living a sedentary lifestyle is often sitting or lying down while engaged in an activity like reading, socializing, watching television, playing video games, or using a mobile phone/computer for much of the day.
Little did we know, there are hidden risks of prolonged sitting or inactive lifestyle.
Physical inactivity has been shown to contribute to the following health conditions:
Physical inactivity may increase the risks of certain cancers.
Physical inactivity may contribute to anxiety and depression.
Physical inactivity has been shown to be a risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases.
People who engage in more physical activity are less likely to develop coronary heart disease.
People who are more active are less likely to be overweight or obese.
Sitting too much may cause a decrease in skeletal muscle mass.
Physical inactivity is linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
Below are nine ways by which you can escape falling into the too-sedentary trap.
1. Stand up every 20 to 30 minutes
Standing up engages both your lower back and leg muscles, which in turn spurs nourishing blood flow throughout your body. So this simple act can reduce your lower back pain and muscle stiffness, while increasing your energy throughout the day.
There are a number of effective ways to remind yourself to stand periodically. For example, you can set an alarm on your computer or mobile phone that rings every 20 minutes, or try breaking up your work into 20-minute segments.
2. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine
Spending prolonged periods of time in the seated position tends to shorten your hamstring muscles, as well as the muscles and soft tissues around your hips. Keeping your hands on your computer mouse and keyboard can also stiffen up your shoulder joints.
3. Avoid after-hours electronics use
Like many people, you may be required to use a computer at work for up to 8 hours per day. So when you get home, don’t head straight for your television or laptop. This unhealthy habit typically leads to more sitting, which is the last thing you need after a long day at work.
4. Go for a walk
Don’t limit exercise to the gym; instead, try to walk as much as possible throughout the day. Walking provides many benefits, including spurring the release of your body’s natural pain-killers—known as endorphins. Here are a few pointers for incorporating walking into your busy schedule:
Schedule one meeting every day that you conduct while walking.
Whenever possible, take the stairs.
Consider using a device that tracks your steps throughout the day—this can be an inexpensive pedometer that you keep in your pocket
5. Take the Stairs
Studies have found that stair climbing, which is considered vigorous-intensity physical activity, burns more calories per minute than jogging. One company, StepJockey, which is funded by the United Kingdom Department of Health and has as its sole mission the goal of getting everyone to take the stairs whenever and wherever possible, notes that stair climbing expends eight to nine times more energy than sitting and about seven times more energy than taking the elevator. And it is so easy to do. The stairs are often right there in front of you, and thus it can be a lot easier, and quicker, to take the stairs than to get to the gym or the sports field.
6. Wash the Dishes
That’s right—instead of (barely) moving from table to couch, get up and clean your kitchen after dinner. You will be standing up and doing the dishes, then engaging in more physical activity as you clean the countertops, sweep the floor, etc. This will help you continue the increased physical activity you began at work (assuming you begin doing the above), and engaging in physical activity after eating helps lower blood sugar levels as well as the risk of insulin resistance in the long run.
7. Go for a Run
You don’t have to be a running guru to reap the benefits of running. A recent study found that running for as little as five to 10 minutes per day at slow speeds (less than six miles per hour) was associated with significantly reduced risks of death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease.
8. Get Up During Commercial Breaks
If you watch television at home, you can use commercial breaks as more time for physical activity. Standing up and doing something during commercial breaks—whether it be folding clothes, doing a few push-ups or sit-ups, or any number of other activities—will break up the extra sedentary time that tends to accrue during most, if not all, screen-based activities.
9. Do Some Gardening
Any gardener can tell you just how much physical effort is involved in every kind of gardening activity, and the American Heart Association considers general gardening to be one of many forms of exercise that fall under the category of moderate-intensity physical activity. Most gardeners find that gardening is not only mentally and spiritually stimulating, but that it is a fantastic physical activity as well—one that can prevent obesity.
Fight the cause of chronic and cardiovascular disease. Always keep yourself active and moving folks!
To your health and wellness,