It’s more important than ever to get up, move around, and get active. So let’s ditch the sedentary lifestyle and prioritize physical activity for the sake of our health and well-being.
Sitting on the couch and binge-watching your favorite show or spending endless hours at your desk might sound like the perfect way to unwind after a long day, but be warned: a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a host of health problems. From high blood pressure to type 2 diabetes and even certain types of cancer, the risks associated with a lack of physical activity are nothing to scoff at. And if your work schedule leaves you with little time to exercise, you might be in even bigger trouble. Not only can a hectic work schedule contributes to chronic stress and mental health problems, but it can also lead to poor nutrition habits and sleep deprivation. So, if you want to live a long and healthy life, it’s important to make physical activity and work-life balance a priority.
The Dangers of Sedentary Behavior and the Need for Action
Sedentariness has become a major public health concern, associated with increased all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity level. Sedentariness and lack of physical activity are not the same, as people can be physically active but still spend a large amount of time engaged in sedentary activities. The time dedicated to sedentary activities has increased over the decades and is projected to increase further in the future. Work-related sedentary time has also increased, with a decline in physically active professions. Public health policies emphasize the need for regular physical activity and urge employers to promote health and well-being among working-age adults.
Diseases Associated with Having a Sedentary Lifestyle
We all love a good lazy day spent binge-watching our favorite TV shows or scrolling through social media, but did you know that around one-third of the global population aged 15 and above do not get enough physical activity? This sedentary lifestyle can have negative effects on our health, and unfortunately, the consequences are not well understood.
In countries like Korea and the US, adults spend an average of 8.3 and 7.7 hours each day being sedentary. This growing trend of sitting for prolonged periods of time is due to a lack of exercise opportunities and increased sedentary jobs. However, this trend is leading to a rise in health problems such as weight gain, chronic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, metabolic disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, depression, and cognitive impairment.
Sedentary behavior affects the human body in various ways, such as impairing lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, decreasing cardiac output and systemic blood flow, and altering hormone levels. It also reduces lipoprotein lipase activity, muscle glucose, and protein transporter activities, which can increase the risk of hormone-related cancers.
Short Bursts of Vigorous Activity Can Significantly Improve Health
A recent study suggests that short bursts of vigorous activity every day, such as climbing stairs, carrying a heavy load of shopping, or stepping up the pace of housework, can provide substantial health benefits. University of Sydney exercise scientist Emmanuel Stamatakis led a research and found that engaging in three one-minute bursts of intense physical activity every day can lower a person’s risk of death by up to 40 percent. Many people and health professionals still think of physical activity as something done during free time, but this study shows that small bursts of activity throughout the day can have a significant impact on health.
Practical Ways to Combat a Sedentary Lifestyle
Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine
Sneak in some extra steps by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from your destination. If you’re working from home, try taking a quick walk around your neighborhood between Zoom calls.
Schedule regular exercise
Make time for exercise by setting a recurring calendar reminder or signing up for a class you enjoy. Think of it as an appointment with yourself that you wouldn’t miss!
Find an activity you enjoy
There are so many different ways to move your body—try out a dance class, go hiking, or take up gardening. Experiment until you find something that makes you excited to get up and get moving!
Set achievable goals
Start small and celebrate your progress along the way. Whether it’s doing 10 push-ups a day or running a 5K, setting achievable goals can help you stay motivated and build confidence.
Limit screen time
While it can be tempting to spend all day scrolling through social media or binge-watching your favorite show, remember that every minute spent sitting is a minute not spent moving. Try setting limits on your screen time and using that extra time to get outside or try a new activity.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
A healthy, active lifestyle is about more than just exercise; it also includes eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and finding healthy ways to manage stress. By prioritizing your overall health and well-being, you’ll be more likely to feel energized and motivated to move your body!
Use fitness apps and trackers
If you’re someone who loves data and feedback, using a fitness app or tracker can be a fun way to monitor your progress and see how far you’ve come.
Ignite your personal growth journey with our handpicked collection of inspiring content. Sign up now for a life-changing dose of motivation and wellness.