Sedentary Behavior Affects Your Physical Health
Different circumstances, perhaps even out of your control, may have led you to live a sedentary lifestyle. If you have sedentary behavior for a while, it’s time to make a change! Sitting for extended hours every day is putting your health at risk. It’s actually a big risk and can lead to a reduction in your lifespan.
The problem is so serious that the World Health Organization has warned about the dangers of physical inactivity, saying that millions of premature deaths every year can be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle.
What Are The Risks of Sedentary Behavior to Your Physical Health?
Sedentary behavior has become a norm in society, with people sitting for hours at a time whether it is at work, home, or while traveling. While there are some benefits to sedentary behavior such as reducing stress and improving mental health, there are also risks to physical health. Prolonged periods of sitting can increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. To reduce these risks, it is important to break up long periods of sitting with light activity and get moving for at least 30 minutes each day.
Being sedentary can lead to a wide range of physical health issues, including some of the following.
Sedentary Behavior Leads to Obesity
A sedentary lifestyle affects your metabolism and reduces your ability to control blood sugar levels. When you regularly don’t move actively, your body responds by slowing down the rate at which it utilizes or metabolizes available blood sugar.
You burn fewer calories, so you gain weight because your body retains the fat and sugar. Unfortunately, a sedentary person is also more likely to consume more calories than is needed to power their body through their day. This is the double whammy that contributes to obesity and too often, Type 2 diabetes.
Sedentary Behavior Affects Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Many people think that if they are not smokers and do not have a family history of heart disease that they are not at risk. However, there are other factors that can increase your risk for heart disease, including being sedentary.
According to the American Heart Association, “the less active you are, the greater your risk for heart disease.” Inactivity can increase your risk for heart disease in a number of ways, including increasing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and causing you to gain weight. Being overweight or obese is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease.
If you are inactive, try to start incorporating some regular physical activity into your routine. Even moderate-intensity exercise can help reduce your risk for heart disease.
Sitting for extended hours can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Your body’s ability to regulate blood pressure declines, and as you gain weight, your heart has to work harder.
Sedentary Behavior Makes Bones and Muscles Become Weaker
It is no secret that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your overall health, but it is just as important to understand what sedentary behavior does to your bones and muscles. Sedentary behavior can cause you to lose bone mass, or density, which makes you more susceptible to osteoporosis when you are older.
Physical activities strengthen the bones and muscles, and if you are sedentary, it has the opposite effect. It makes muscles weaker. Your bones also lose mineral content, making them weaker and more easily broken.
The lack of enough physical load on the skeleton can lead to osteoporosis, and prolonged sitting shortens your hip flexor muscles and causes hip joint pain. If you have poor posture, your back will suffer and your spine health may degenerate prematurely.
Causes poor muscle function. Sitting for long periods of time will lead to your muscle tissue becoming weak. This is because you are not moving your muscles as much as you should be. It can lead to muscle cramps and pain, which can increase the risk of developing muscle problems.
Sedentary Behavior Weakens the Immune System
It is no secret that a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your physical health, but what you may not know is that it can also damage your immune system. If you sit all day, you eventually become more susceptible to the flu and other illnesses that are caused by viruses. Your immune system falls behind because it is not spending nearly as much time at work as it should.
When you have an inactive lifestyle, your immune system can get weaker, making you vulnerable to infections and illnesses. You can also develop chronic inflammation in various parts of the body. The most basic explanation of inflammation is that it causes redness and swelling in the body. It can be caused by a number of different things, but one of the primary reasons it occurs is because your immune system has become compromised.
Leads to Poor Blood Circulation
There are a number of things that can lead to poor blood circulation, including sitting in the same position for too long, not getting enough exercise, and smoking. When blood doesn’t circulate properly, it can cause a number of problems, including pain and swelling in the extremities, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and a feeling of heaviness in the limbs. In severe cases, poor blood circulation can even lead to gangrene or heart attack. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away.
Sitting for long hours prevents your blood from properly circulating. The blood remains in your legs and feet longer than it should, and when the blood doesn’t circulate properly, it means that other parts of your body are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Your legs can swell and cause other health problems too.
Sedentary Behavior Increases Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
In developed countries, people are spending more time sitting down and less time being physically active. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Increased sitting time is also associated with a higher risk of death from any cause, including heart disease and cancer.
Physical inactivity doubles your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sedentary behavior makes your body more insulin-resistant, so your blood sugar levels remain elevated. A lack of exercise and poor diet are the biggest contributors to the development of type 2 diabetes.
There are several ways to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if you have a sedentary job. You can break up prolonged periods of sitting by getting up to walk around every 30 minutes. You can also try to include some physical activity in your daily routine, such as taking a brisk walk or riding a bike. If you have trouble fitting in exercise, consider making small changes to your work environment or routine that will help you be more active.
Sedentary Behavior Leads to Cancer
A sedentary lifestyle has been linked with an increased risk of cancer. Researchers found that people who spend more than eight hours a day sitting or lying down are at a higher risk for colon, ovarian, and uterine cancers. Even people who exercise regularly are at risk if they spend most of their day sitting.
This is because when we’re inactive, our bodies produce more insulin and inflammation-causing molecules. These increase the risk of cancer by damaging cells and DNA. To reduce your risk of cancer, try to break up long periods of sitting with light activity, such as walking or taking the stairs.
A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to some types of cancer, such as colon cancer and breast cancer. Higher blood sugar levels have been associated with increased risks of some cancers.
What Can You Do to Avoid Sedentary Behaviors?
Sitting for long hours can affect your physical health significantly, and it can be challenging to fit in exercise workout routines. Whether you don’t feel like it, or you are a person chained to an office desk and always busy, you need to exercise.
If you can get moving it will help decrease your risks of developing diseases, such as those mentioned above.
Here are some tips to get you moving more and prevent sedentary behaviors.
- When working, stand up every after 20 minutes and walk around for a minute or two.
- Stretch and exercise every day.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
- Do standing or walking meetings.
- Park your car a little farther from the building entrance.
- Ride a bicycle or walk to work.
- Don’t sit after meals.
- Take a walk after lunch.
- Stand up during coffee breaks.
- Walk around while taking phone calls.
- Track your daily steps and try to double your current record. Keep upping your score until you achieve your desired number of steps every day.
- Invest in a standing work desk.
If you add a few minutes each day to your routine, it won’t be long before you have made the time needed to fit exercise into your schedule. Those few extra minutes each day added to your daily physical activities can help you counter the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Make conscious efforts to move more and avoid sitting for long hours. Track your activities and monitor your progress. If you’ve been sedentary for too long, don’t shock your body by doing an hour of exercise suddenly. Set incremental goals and start small.
Sedentary behavior, or the lack of physical activity, can have a significant impact on overall health. In fact, sitting for prolonged periods of time has been linked to major health concerns such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Breaking the habit of sitting too much can be a challenge, but it’s worth it to improve your overall health.