There can be many points made for the sedentary lifestyle of modern city dwellers. But nothing brought this point home as much as the lockdown did. The perils of being inactive became too real suddenly and everyone became conscious of their health and lifestyle choices. There are many health risks of an inactive lifestyle that may not have visible right away but will negatively impact you over time.
Roughly 2 million deaths per year are caused by an inactive lifestyle. This has led to an inactive lifestyle being considered among the 10 leading causes of death and disease by the World Health Organization.
“Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression, and anxiety” according to the World Health Organization.
What is an inactive lifestyle?
Having a sedentary or inactive lifestyle means a lifestyle with a lot of sitting and laying down, that does not involve much exercise or physical movement. These days most people are engaged in sedentary activities. Most jobs today require you to sit in front of a computer for an extended period of time. For traveling, we prefer cars or trains as opposed to walking or using cycles as people did in the past. Even during our leisure time, we are often sitting in front of a television or some other device.
How does an inactive lifestyle affect your body?
An inactive lifestyle affects your body in several ways.
With an inactive lifestyle, you burn fewer calories. This makes you more likely to gain weight. Additionally, it makes it difficult to lose weight. This accumulation of weight can lead to obesity, which causes many health problems.
Muscle strength and endurance are also lost in an inactive lifestyle because the muscles are not used as much. Bone strength is also significantly reduced and bones may lose mineral content too.
Your metabolism may be affected by an inactive lifestyle too, making it difficult to break down fats and sugars.
Immunity is also affected by an inactive lifestyle.
Diseases caused by inactive lifestyle-
Obesity is a growing concern in our society. It is a condition in which an individual has excessive body fat that increases the risk for other diseases. BMI equal to or greater than 30 is considered obese (as per the World Health Organization). Unhealthy diets and inactive lifestyles are the main causes of increasing obesity in adults and children. According to the World Health Organization, 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2020.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a result of the body’s ineffective use of insulin. More than 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is largely caused by excessive body weight and lack of physical exercise. Earlier it was observed only in adults but these days is it also increasingly being observed in children.
3. High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
High blood pressure is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. It is also known as hypertension. The dangerous part is that it does not have any visible symptoms but if left untreated over time it can result in heart disease or stroke.
Blood pressure over 140/90 is considered hypertension, while blood pressure over 10/90 is considered severe. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of getting hypertension by 30-40 percent.
4. Heart diseases
An unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity risk getting heart diseases. Heart disease is a general term used for many different heart diseases including - Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Heart Arrhythmias, Heart Failure, Heart Valve Disease, Pericardial Disease, Cardiomyopathy (Heart Muscle Disease), Congenital Heart Disease, etc.
Importance of Exercise
Regular exercise is very important for a healthy lifestyle. Exercising leads to an overall improvement in health. It improves cardiovascular health, helps in the alleviation of depression, improves immunity, lung health, etc.
Since most of the work we do these days requires little to no physical activity, it is important to consciously add physical activity to our day.
How to be more physically active?
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and have not exercised for a long time, you should start slowly. There are many ways to make lifestyle changes that are sustainable. Start with a simple exercise routine like brisk walking, jogging, or playing a sport of your liking, and gradually add in more exercises.
The goal is to get the recommended amount of exercise according to your age and weight or achieve a fitness goal. To reach this goal divide it into parts with increasing difficulty and work on it over a period of time. You do not want to overwhelm your body as that can cause injury.
If you have a health condition be sure to consult your doctor before starting any new type of exercise as not all exercises are recommended for everyone.
How can I be more active around the house?
Other than exercising you can also be more active in your day-to-day life. This can be done in the following ways -
You can do housework like cleaning, gardening, yard work, etc.
Walk in place, lift hand weights, do light stretching, etc while watching TV.
You can also follow great at-home workouts on youtube.
Incorporate more walking into your day. You can walk your kids to school or take a walk with friends. Walking is a simple and relaxing way of exercising. It can help you lose weight and improves your mood as well.
Make it a rule to stand up while attending a call. You can walk while talking on the phone and say goodbye to extra weight.
You can also invest in exercise equipment and build a home gym. This will depend on your budget and requirement. You can start small by purchasing a yoga mat, a fitness band, and some basic weights. With time you can get more equipment as your requirements increase.
How can I be more active at work?
Most jobs today are computer-based. That translates to long hours of sitting at your desk and no physical activity. If you also have a similar work situation, here are some suggestions on how you can get more physically active at work -
Take a 2-minute to 5-minute walk after every hour. This will give your eyes a rest from the screen light as well as give you a break. Breaks are great to increase productivity and concentration.
Make it a rule to walk while attending phone calls.
You can get a standing desk or a treadmill desk, whichever suits you more. This is an efficient way of incorporating some physical activity during work.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator and your heart will be happy. This can also help you lose weight and achieve a healthy BMI.
You can have "walking" or standing meetings with co-workers instead of sitting in a conference room.
The health risks of an inactive lifestyle can easily be mitigated by incorporating some physical activities into your lifestyle. This is a simple way in which you can take care of your health and save tons of money on medicines and medical fees, etc.
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