What are the dangers of living a sedentary lifestyle?
A sedentary lifestyle and the rise of the couch potato
In today's modern society, the amount of people who do manual labour for a living has plummeted and there has been an increase in the people living a sedentary lifestyle. People have appliances and gadgets for every need. We used to sweep and now we vacuum, we used to wash by hand, now we use machines for it. Meanwhile, the number of people in office jobs has grown exponentially. Human's have evolved over thousands and thousands of years to move, so you can imagine that recent changes in technology and working opportunities have dramatically effected our health. Wherever you look there are places to sit, on the bus, at school, at work and of course at home, so it's no wonder studies have shown the average adult sits for almost 55 hours per week.
In simple terms a 'sedentary lifestyle' is a type of lifestyle with a minuscule amount of physical activity. Examples of sedentary activities are numerous and ubiquitous in our daily lives. Using a computer, reading, watching TV, playing video games and many other activities are commonplace sedentary activities. It's no surprise that the results of research done on doing these activities every day for hours is very concerning. Adults routinely spend sixty percent of their daily existence being sedentary. Most adults also blame a 'lack of time' for not being able to work out, so it's very ironic that on average they waste over three hours per day watching TV. If you are sat down, that means your muscles aren't contracting, the big muscle groups such as the legs and the back muscles are still there, sitting quietly. The problem is, because you aren't moving, your body slows its metabolism down. Studies show that 95% of the UK aren't even doing the minimum amount of recommended physical activity they would need to combat these slowly creeping problems up ahead it doesn't matter if you're slender or overweight, if you're living a sedentary lifestyle you'll have similar chances of dying like a smoker does.
A Sedentary lifestyle makes your body prone to deadly ailments like obesity, heart disease and certain types of cancer too. It doesn't just affect you at home though, from an employer's viewpoint, having sedentary workers isn't good either! If lots of people are sat at their desks all day they're risking chronic diseases and early deaths. Sick days and loss of productivity will often follow. The more you sit, the less you're moving so its natural that a whole host of physiological problems can spring up if you allow yourself to stray into a sedentary lifestyle. In the long term, sitting for hours on end can bring you back pain, hernias and a bulging disk. Your lower back, hip flexors and hamstrings will be especially tight if you've sat down all day, if you get that burst of inspiration to go work out then you'll be much more susceptible to injury. Gravity and a lack of circulation causes a buildup of fluid in your lower legs, as your blood flow becomes much more sluggish and its easier for clots to form in your blood. The weight of your body on your own fat cells causes them to create two times as much fat, at a much faster rate than as when you're standing. Lying down isn't much better though, the fluid that builds up when you sit down migrates naturally to the tissues and muscles of your neck, forcing your throat to swell up. This migration can also damage the vocal folds if you're eating fatty junk foods or drinking alcohol prior to bedtime as acid moves here too. The sad thing is, even if you're exercising and doing more than a 30 minute brisk walk per day, you still aren't covered from these problems.
The actual solution to preventing them appears to be more moving throughout the day. If you think about it fairly, an hour of exercise isn't going to outweigh 23 hours of being sedentary so it does make sense. You can start by trying to stand up more in general or try parking further away from the supermarket so you have to walk and you can also take the stairs instead of the escalator. All these little changes can add up to help beat back a sedentary lifestyle. We have never really been properly educated that it doesn't cost a penny in order to be more active every day. With regards to exercise, there are numerous ways you can make small changes to help you get yourself out of a sedentary lifestyle. You could put your TV shows and movies on an iPad and just watch them on a treadmill or stationary bike when you go to the gym. At home you can try walking around if you're on the phone, or eating food. You could also stand when reading too, or even put your laptop on a counter so you can stand instead of sitting at a desk. Work is probably the biggest problem area for people as you're definitely expected to put 8 hours in at your desk. To combat this you could set yourself mini breaks to walk around for a few minutes at certain intervals throughout the day, it's all about light ambulation, you don't have to move around all day but just make sure you get up at regular intervals over the 8 hours period. More and more people in the USA are replacing their desk chairs with swiss/stability balls, this is great for keeping your core working when you're sat down. You can also make sure the printer is away from your desk somewhere so you have to force yourself to get up and walk again!