The Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle and How to Overcome It
The Dangers of a Sedentary. Sitting has become the prevalent way of existing these days. We sit in the car, we sit at work, we come home, and sit in front of our TVs. Gone are the days of walking everywhere, and many people are even using the “convenient” option many grocery stores use nowadays to get their produce and food delivered to their doorstep. All for the sake of “saving time.” But at what expense?
Our bodies were meant to move. Our muscles and joints are meant to change positions and perform all kinds of motions, from walking and running to jumping and changing directions. Why is it then, that the sedentary lifestyle easily becomes so appealing? Is it only because we got used to it and now every other type of lifestyle seems like a lot of work? Here are some of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and the best ways to overcome them.
Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle is easily described, but if you want to put it into actual numbers, it’s defined as a lack of activity for at least six hours of the day (not counting sleep or naps). This typically involves sitting down, but can also include lying down and simply being inactive for long periods of time during the day.
Research shows how this type of lifestyle can have serious long-term effects on our health, increasing the risk for a variety of cardiovascular and bone-related medical conditions. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization came out with a bold statement that physical inactivity is a major cause of disability and disease, with research results showing how approximately two million deaths per year can be attributed to a lack of physical activity. Here are just some of the dangers associated with a sedentary lifestyle:
- Obesity: Long periods of inactivity pose a variety of health risks, with obesity being the most common one to look out for. Not expending a decent amount of calories during the day while still eating the same you usually would leads to unintentional weight gain and over time, can easily translate into obesity. Coupled with high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, the obesity pandemic is one the hardest to combat these days.
- Diabetes Type 2: Physical inactivity can lead to a variety of issues with your insulin production, causing insulin resistance and diabetes type 2. Even though there are different factors that contribute to developing diabetes, living a sedentary lifestyle plays an important role.
- Heart problems: Not getting enough physical activity can have a seriously negative effect on your heart. It can affect the way your heart pumps blood, the rate of which oxygen-rich blood gets into your heart, and cause the veins and arteries to become clogged. This can lead to cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, and even a heart attack.
- Vein-associated problems: Sitting for long periods of time slows down and even restricts your blood flow. This can easily result in varicose veins, spider veins, and even deep vein thrombosis, which can be life-threatening.
- Joint Problems: Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour are commonly associated with a variety of joint problems, from chronic pain to degenerative arthritis. These issues are usually observed in older individuals who are also at a higher risks of falls, bone breaks, and joint displacements, which can drastically affect their life quality.
It’s important to note that these are just some of the dangers linked to leading a sedentary lifestyle. There are many other consequences of physical inactivity that can creep up over time and have a negative effect to your physical and mental health.
Symptoms of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Even though when you calculate how many hours a day you spend sitting down, there are some symptoms that can be the signals you need to make the necessary adjustments to improve the quality of your life. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Chronic pain in your neck, back, and joints
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Brain fog
- Unintentional weight gain
How to Overcome the Dangers of Sedentary Lifestyle
Now that you’ve established whether or not you fall in this category and how bad your symptoms, there are some adjustments you can do to help prevent this type of lifestyle to hurt your overall health and well-being.
Increase Your Physical Activity
First and foremost, move your body. The 10 000 steps challenge became popular for a reason. Ever since people started counting their steps, they would come to a shocking realization that on some days, their sedentary behavior would make that step count so low, they wouldn’t even believe it. It showed to be such a good motivation for them to move that many reported feeling so much better after just making that one tiny change in their day.
If you’re not interested in counting your steps, simply make it a goal to move more throughout the day. Walk to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, use your lunch break and go for a walk, take some meetings on-the-go, join a gym or a studio, or explore your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be a huge leap at once and no one is saying you need to run a marathon. Step by step, you’ll increase your daily movement.
Invest in a Standing Desk
If you work from home, investing in a standing desk is a great way to keep your blood flow moving throughout the day. If you’re working in an office, it might be worth asking HR if they’re willing to get you a standing desk. Many companies nowadays offer this to theyr employees as a part of ther wellness and well-being program.
Focus on Lowering Overall Inflammation
Sitting for long periods of time can easily increase your overall inflammation, so focusing on lowering your risk factors for chronic diseases will help you overcome some of the most dangerous consequences. Clean up your diet and stay away from processed foods and additives, drink plenty of fluids, pay attention to your sleep quality, and engage in stress-reducing activities such as journaling, meditation, breathing techniques, and nature walks.
Consult With a Physician
If the symptoms you’re experiencing are becoming more severe and impact your life quality, consult with a physician or a mental health specialist and get a more personalized approach. It’s always best to address every symptom as it happens so you’re aware of any underlying conditions that might be there.
People are becoming less and less physically active which can be quite dangerous for long-term health and well-being. It’s important to address the symptoms before they become severe and prevent any serious diseases and medical conditions from occuring in the first place.
I have found my cancer journey to be a positive and profound transformational experience. I’m inspired to share my healing journey here, and trust you’ll find hope, encouragement and purpose as you discover the healing power that lies within you.