Sedentary Lifestyle Consequences


Does being too sedentary impact your health?

The dictionary defines being sedentary as tending to spend too much time seated; or having an inactive work or way of life which is characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise.

The bottom line is if we are not regularly physically active, we are leading sedentary lives!

The minimum amount of activity any person should be engaging in is 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week. That equates to 30 minutes per day for 5 out of 7 days per week, or 15 minutes per day if you are doing more strenuous activities. Ideally everyone should aim for 6000 – 10 000 steps per day, but when we’re working from home and doing little else, we may only manage a few hundred steps daily! It is therefore something that we need to be intentional about if we are to help our health along.

Up to 85% of the population doesn’t get enough exercise which makes being sedentary a huge risk factor for global mortality. 

So, here’s how inactivity for extended periods of time impacts physical health:

  • It increases the risk for certain types of cancer
  • It contributes to anxiety and depression
  • It increases risk for cardiovascular disease
  • It decreases muscle mass, weakens certain sets of muscles, and can cause other joint issues like neck, shoulder, hip, and lower back problems
  • It can cause an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Active people are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes or obesity and are more likely to have a healthy body composition and an overall sense of wellbeing.

A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to more deaths annually than smoking!

The availability of technology, home deliveries and convenience foods mean that we hardly have to leave our homes to get everything we need. Almost all activities surrounding technology involve sitting in front of a TV, computer, laptop, phone, or tablet. When we have a desk job, we spend all day sitting and then we move to our favorite chair or couch to enjoy our favorite past time, we can land up sitting all day and night. We don’t work all the various muscle groups that need to be worked, we don’t breathe deeply so don’t get enough oxygen to our brains and then we wonder why we are tired, stiff, sore and lethargic or depressed.

Here are some practical ideas to think about to increase activity during the day:

  • Buy a small trampoline and jump on that for 5-10 minutes a few times a day. It can be stored upright behind your desk or near the coffee machine so is easy to access and store.
  • Do a set of burpees or High Intensity Short Burst Exercises a few times a day. These take a few minutes and get your heart rate up and work multiple muscles in your body simultaneously.
  • Install a treadmill or bike desk which allows you to walk or ride while you work.
  • Park as far away from the shopping centre entrance as possible and walk briskly while doing your shopping.
  • Avoid the drive-through or home delivery option when ordering in – get out of your car and walk to place your order.
  • Take a brisk walk around the block during a tea or lunch break. The sunshine and fresh air will also do wonders for you.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 25 March 2021 to learn more.

Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am