The negative effects of physical inactivity


Many of us work at a desk or spend a lot of time in a car all day, then we go home at the end of the day and sit down for dinner, then sit on the couch. his week we spoke about what is on the label with regard to sugars and food additives.

Added to this most people travel to and from work and to any leisure activities by car, bus, taxi, or train. More and more people are inactive or have sedentary lifestyles. This is a lifestyle with little to no exercise and a lot of sitting or lying down.

People who sit for long periods during the day have a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

Even if we exercise for 30 minutes daily, being sedentary for the other twenty-three and a half hours can pose a problem. Our risk for cardiovascular disease increases when we sit for more than 10 hours per day.

Not only are we at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, but when our lifestyles are inactive it has a negative impact on the physiology of our bodies and our mental health.

The following happens when we are inactive for too long:

  • We burn fewer calories so are more likely to gain weight.
  • Our metabolism can become slower which makes it harder for our bodies to break down sugars and fats.
  • Our circulation slows down.
  • We don’t use our muscles they can atrophy so we can lose muscle strength which can impact our ability to hold ourselves up. Apart from losing muscle strength, some of our muscles shorten and others are extended which forces our bodies to compensate and we can land up with long-term postural problems and joint or muscle weakness and pain.
  • Our bones become demineralized, so they become weaker, and we become more prone to osteoporosis and fractures.
  • We can develop inflammation.
  • Our hormonal balance can be disrupted.

So, what do we do if our work requires us to sit a lot?

  • Take regular breaks to stand up and walk around. For every 20 minutes of sitting, aim to move around for at least two minutes and stand for about eight minutes.
  • Get a mini trampoline or a skipping rope and jump for 5-10 minutes while boiling the kettle 3 – 5 times per day.
  • Aim to walk 6000 – 10 000 steps per day. Brisk walking is ideal to increase our heart rate.
  • Walk to the shops or park as far from the entrance as possible.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 31 August 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am.