As we age, our muscles and bones naturally get weaker, which is a normal part of aging. However, it can also stem from a sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle is one in which you spend a lot of time sitting down on the couch, at your desk, or in a car.
Living a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t just affect your appearance and health, but it can also negatively impact your life. There are many disadvantages of a sedentary lifestyle.
Living an inactive life means that you fail to get the necessary amount of exercise you need to keep your body healthy. This can negatively affect your appearance and health, and other areas of your life in other ways as well.
In this article, we will discuss some of the top disadvantages of a sedentary lifestyle and how you can prevent them.
What is a Sedentary Lifestyle?
A sedentary lifestyle is when you spend many hours in a day, either at work or home, sitting on a chair. You might either be watching TV or working on the computer.
The health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle are also caused by excessive sitting. Even if you don’t have a desk job, you can still develop these discomforts simply by sitting too much.
This lifestyle is typical in industrialized countries where people are encouraged to spend more time at work and less at home.
Consequences of a Sedentary Life
Below are a few ways an inactive life is bad for you.
1. Musculoskeletal Discomfort
Sedentary individuals are at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. This is a condition where the cartilage that protects your joints gets worn out.
Sitting is commonly associated with increased pressure in the joints, which can cause cartilage degeneration. It can also lead to musculoskeletal issues such as lower back pain and trigger finger.
A sedentary lifestyle also compromises the body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature. This can lead to serious consequences, such as overheating and heat-related illnesses.
2. Reduced Brain Function
When you spend a lot of time sitting down, your body doesn’t get the chance to do the work it needs. As a result, your brain functions are reduced, leading to cognitive decline.
Cognitive decline can occur in children and adults due to inactivity and sitting for long hours at a stretch. It can lead to memory loss and problems with attention and focus.
For example, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to reduced blood flow to the brain, which can cause damage if left untreated. This can lead to problems like memory loss and impaired thinking skills.
If you want to maintain good brain function as you age, it’s imperative that you stay active and keep moving throughout the day.
3. Risk of Diabetes
Sedentary individuals are at increased risk of developing diabetes. This is because a sedentary lifestyle increases insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for this condition.
Insulin resistance is caused by excessive amounts of insulin in the blood, which can lead to problems with glucose metabolism. Regular physical activity might help prevent complications such as diabetes by helping to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce hyperglycemia.
This is why it is crucial to be physically active as much as possible to prevent diabetes.
4. Depressed Mood
Another disadvantage of a sedentary lifestyle is an increased risk of developing depression. In addition, a sedentary lifestyle is associated with the decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It is a substance responsible for creating new neurons in the brain.
BDNF levels are also affected by the amount of physical activity you engage in. Therefore, being physically active can positively impact brain function by increasing levels of BDNF.
5. Risk of Cancer
Cancer is also a disadvantage that a sedentary individual might suffer from. This is because a sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increase in oxidative stress, which is related to the development of cancerous cells.
Excess amounts of oxidative stress have also been observed in cancerous cells. Living an active life can help to reduce oxidative stress, which has been shown to prevent the development of cancer.
6. Sleep Disorders
A sedentary individual might also be at increased risk of developing sleep disorders. An example of this is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep.
The condition has also been observed to cause an increase in blood pressure, which can be dangerous. Getting enough physical activity during the day might help reduce sleep apnea by improving the amount of rest that you get during sleep.
Sedentary individuals are at increased risk of developing obesity. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with a decrease in the hormones that regulate energy intake and expenditure, which can be associated with excessive amounts of body fat.
Also, sitting down for long periods can encourage bad habits like eating and drinking junk food. These add up fat to the body that does not get used up when you are inactive for long. Accumulated fat over time will turn to obesity which has severe health risks.
How to avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle
Even though some of us have to work at our computers at home all day, these are several ways to reduce our sedentary lifestyle.
1. Exercise to Be More Active
You can do simple exercises like pushups or squats to keep active. Make sure you get enough exercise – either by running or taking a walk around the block every day. If you have difficulty getting started, start small and increase your reps as you go.
If you don’t have the time to go to the gym, break up workouts into short segments so that they feel less overwhelming. There are many online workout templates for personal trainers that you can use if you want a more vigorous workout.
This will help keep you healthy, fit, and less sedentary overall. There are no excuses to be a passive person when you don’t have to be.
2. Take Short Walk Breaks at Work
Typically, you walk into work at 8:00 AM and walk out at 5:00 PM, and most of that time is spent sitting at your desk working. While many think it might be beneficial for productivity at the office, the opposite is actually true.
Sitting for many hours at a stretch without taking out time to walk around to clear your head can stress you. The more stressed you are at work, the harder iot will be to work.
To reduce your chances of the risks associated with a sedentary life, avoid sitting at your desk the whole day. Instead, break up the hours you spend sitting at a stretch. Try to get up and walk for a bit every hour or two.
Walk around the office while you do other important tasks. You may even work while standing at your desk for a bit. Speak to your boss to consider having standing desks at the office. They might be into it because of its many benefits.
The same applies if you have to work at home. Walk breaks don’t just have to be for walking; standing, walking, and even standing are all ways to keep your body in an active state.
3. Take the Stairs
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator has numerous health benefits. It’s a low-impact exercise that burns calories, improves your cardiovascular health, strengthens your muscles, and increases flexibility.
If there’s an elevator or escalator in the building where you work, take it instead of the stairs. It may seem like extra work at the beginning, but over time, it will become easier, and you will start to see benefits.
4. Park Further Away
Park as far away from your office, hospital, or grocery store as possible. If you have to park next to these buildings, walk the extra distance. You should deliberately incorporate walking into your daily life.
In a study published, researchers found that people who walked 10 minutes a day while they were at work had lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who sat for hours at a stretch at a desk job.
5. Walk Everywhere You Can
If you can walk somewhere, walk there. Sitting for hours at a stretch while on your computer is a terrible idea. If you live in a large city, walk to the grocery store or the park. Walking around the block is also a great way to burn calories.
Don’t just walk around your house; walk to the store, a friend’s house, or a coffee shop. Walking is a great way to meet new people, get fit, and live healthier.
6. Dance it Out
Dancing is an excellent form of exercise. It’s fun, it doesn’t involve any equipment or special clothing, and you can do it anywhere at any time. If you live in a city or town with a large community of dancers, join a dance class. If dancing isn’t your thing, try other forms of dance like salsa, tango, or ballroom.
Sedentary lifestyles can lead to many health problems and are associated with a heightened risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer. If you want to avoid these risks, it’s essential to incorporate some form of physical activity into your daily routine.
This article talked about some ways you can stay active throughout the day. For example, standing up while working is also an easy way to add more movement to your day while still getting the job done.
As you can see, there are many ways to stay active throughout the day and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Just know that working out should be a priority in your life so that you can avoid these negative side effects of a sedentary lifestyle.