HIDDEN HARMS OF A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE

8 min


So, a sedentary lifestyle is not something new to most of us. Most of us follow this type of lifestyle. The word sedentary refers to an inactive form of lifestyle and spending most of the time seated. Owing to the pandemic situation, most of us are pushed into this form of lifestyle. The burden is not only on adults. On the other hand, children and adolescents are equally affected. Online classes and work from home kinds of jobs have become the norm of the day.

So, how does a sedentary lifestyle affect us? How harmful is it to health in general? Are there ways to make our life more active and indulging? How to adopt an active lifestyle without compromising much on your career? Let’s try to answer all these questions and understand the harmful effects of adapting to a sedentary life. After going through this article, we bet you might understand,

  • The habits or practices that make your life sedantary
  • Identify general patterns of errors
  • Adopting an active lifestyle
  • And, the goodness of changing your harmful habits that ruin your health once and for all.

EVERYDAY HABITS THAT CLASSIFY AS SEDENTARY:

Sedentary behaviour is characterized and calculated not only by the hours we spend sitting and lying around. It is defined as the time our energy expenditure is less than 1.5 metabolic equivalents. Most of us are very much acquainted and used to this form of lifestyle that we fail to recognize that we are actually doing more and more harm to our health. To begin with, let’s try to identify certain patterns or habits of our everyday life that classify us as sedentary.

  • Firstly, the amount of time you spend sitting is the most common measure of how sedentary your lifestyle is. A review stated that an average adult spends almost 4-6 hours seated per day. However, this is just an estimated time and the actual values might be more than the indicated number.
  • Secondly, the ‘screen time’. The screen time is however a modern concept. The concept of sitting to relax however started around the time televisions came into market. That’s where mankind started to sit around to relax and to be entertained. Further, after the advent of mobiles, tablets etc., where entertainment is being served around in a silver platter, a person’s encounter with the screens have increased. This is a major reason for sedentary lifestyle. This increase in the screen time is directly linked with negative health benefits.

HEALTH RISKS OF A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE:

The health risks of this lifestyle can be divided into 2 main categories. They are direct and indirect.

OBESITY:

It is a very obvious health risk of a sedentary lifestyle. Needless to say, the BMI is increased as a result of being seated for long hours. An increased BMI is a very common result of obesity. Lack of physical activity also contributes to obesity. This is also quoted as one of the major reasons for the decline of health due to preventable diseases around the world.

RISK OF DEVELOPING INFECTIONS AND CANCERS:

A large number of people who have a sedentary lifestyle not only have the risk of developing obesity. Apart from all these, these people have the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. This means they are at a higher risk of developing conditions like increased blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol etc. All these factors act together like a ticking time bomb.

Further, obesity can increase the risk of certain cancers by up to 50%.

HARD ON THE JOINTS:

Apart from the other organs and body parts one of the major parts of the body that bears the brunt of a sedentary lifestyle is the joints. People who carry around a lot of bodyweights around put a lot of stress and pressure on the joints. This extra wear and tear may lead to the development of osteoarthritis.

COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM:

While obesity alone doesn’t contribute to a compromised immune system. A sedentary lifestyle and very little or no outdoor exposure and a lack of physical activity can reduce the body’s ability to fight infections and subsequently compromises the immune system.

immunity

EARLY DEATH:

Early death, believes it or not is also a consequence of a sedentary lifestyle. All the above-mentioned factors when combined together can cause irreversible damage to the body. So, it is high time that you take care of your body if you are into a sedentary lifestyle.

WAYS TO REDUCE THE RISKS OF SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE:

As with any other conditions, disease and lifestyle threats, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle also comes with a few simple steps.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND EXERCISES:

Most of us would be annoyed or bored to hear the advice on exercising regularly. But, this is the key to resolving a lot of physical and mental problems. The release of endorphins as a result of exercise is an added benefit. This is a major mood-lifter. Further, physically active people are less likely to be depressed. Exercise plays a major role in terms of stress management. Moreover, studies show that physically fit individuals will respond less dramatically to stressful situations. Secondly, these people return to normality in a much shorter time. Never view exercise as extravagant stuff or a commitment. Enjoy this time you spend on your mental and physical health. Studies show that people who sit for more than 4 hours a day are at a 40% increased risk of developing health problems. However, this can be compensated by exercising daily.

People who exercise at least 4 hours per week can reduce this issue. Further, it is shown that people who exercise regularly showed fewer damages from a sedentary life than those who sit around for less than 4 hours a day. So, from any aspect exercise and physical activity shows good results.

SETTING AN EXAMPLE:

If you are a parent or an adult with kids at home you need to get it right. In today’s scenario, as we already saw, not only adults but kids have their fair share of a sedentary lifestyle. Further, kids are struck to their tablets, mobiles etc. For the most part, kids learn stuff by looking around and observing their adults. They look up to us to understand things around us. Here comes the part where we should be responsible adults.

It’s totally impossible to avoid mobiles or gadgets completely. But, it is possible to reduce their usage or limit them for absolutely necessary things. Further, simple changes can bring a great impact on your parenting and your mission of saving your kids from falling into a sedentary lifestyle. Spend the time around your kids by reading out, explaining their questions, teaching simple games and creative activities. Go old school, and tell your kids those bedtime stories your grandparents passed on to you. Take them outdoors frequently. Childhood obesity is really high and is often a result of a sedentary lifestyle. Make it a rule to avoid giving gadgets to your kids before a particular age. All these might be impossible every day but we can incorporate them slowly into our lives.

SIMPLE MODIFICATIONS IN EVERYDAY HABITS:

This habit is not very complex to follow. It involves simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at your workplace or apartment. Try parking your car a little far than you usually do so that you can get those few extra steps. Walk to places you frequent. Stroll down that regular route to the market, coffee shop etc.

Certain apps and most smartphones today come around with a step counter. These apps show the number of steps you take regularly on a day. Set a target and try to achieve it regularly.

SET REMINDERS:

If you are a person whose job demands that you sit around all day long this could be highly dangerous. So, make it a rule that you get your fair share of time standing or switching between activities. Start by setting time limits and reminders. These reminders can be spaced out anywhere between 30-45 mins. Make it a point to stand up, take a gulp of water and walk around for at least 10-15 minutes.

This refreshes your mind and body. Further, it takes off work away from your mind and gives the time for the brain to process and refresh. Standing desks are a great option. Most importantly, make sure that you check on your ergonomics at your home and workplace to prevent any long term damage to your body.

ASSOCIATE AND BUILD A HABIT:

As of other previous articles, building a habit by associating them with regular activities makes the person quickly adapt to that habit and carry it around for a very long time. Always remember the 21/90 rule. 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to build a lifestyle. For instance, if you are planning on watching a long movie make it a rule to get up and walk around during commercials. Further, you can also change channels on your television set directly without using your remote. Some of these might sound lame but these are really effective in reducing or preventing a sedentary lifestyle.

RUN ERRANDS:

Try running simple chores and errands by yourself. Wash your clothes once in a while without depending on the washing machine. Try gardening, pick weeds, water plants and avoid the mower and sprinkler. These simple tasks also count around and significantly bring down your lazy lifestyle.

To sum up, it’s not totally easy to change overnight. But, we can try our best. Having understood the harms of this kind of a lifestyle try cutting out and evolving to a better life.


Like it? Share with your friends!

Dr Kavitha M

I am an undergraduate degree holder in dentistry. I have a great interest in music and reading. I am a linguaphile. My areas of interest lie in psychology, medical imaging, diagnostics, and oncology. I am a person who focuses more on the emerging areas of forensics.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *