Health Risks Of A Sedentary Lifestyle

Why is it that we are more sedentary now than we were just 50 years ago? Think about it…technology! Technology has caused an increase in desk jobs. Plus more entertainment these days can be done while sitting (i.e., going to a movie, surfing the web and playing video games.)

What Is A Sedentary Lifestyle?

We all have lazy days, but what is the actual definition of sedentary? A sedentary lifestyle is defined as a type of lifestyle where a person fails to meet the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control. The CDC says that an individual should participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of a more vigorous exercise per week.

Most health professionals are in agreement that walking 10,000 steps a day is the ideal goal for daily activity. According to the World Health Organization, 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough activity. This makes physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.

You may have been taught that having a healthy diet and aerobic exercise will offset the effects of time spent being sedentary. Even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day, you may not be able to counteract the effects of sitting throughout the rest of your day. The solution seems to be more movement spread throughout the day.

Health Effects of Sedentary Lifestyle

It’s probably no surprise to you that sitting behind a desk, just like relaxing on the couch, for too many hours a day can be harmful to your health. But what you may find surprising is the extent of havoc it is causing on your body. The Mayo Clinic found in “13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”

In addition, an article posted by John Hopkins Medicine, physical inactivity has been shown to contribute to the following:

  • Increase the risks of certain cancers
  • Contribute to anxiety and depression
  • Risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases
  • More likely to develop coronary heart disease
  • More likely to be overweight or obese
  • May cause a decrease in skeletal muscle mass
  • Can cause high blood pressure
  • Can increase cholesterol levels

Sedentary At Work

Overall, sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950 and physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of our workforce – 50% less than in 1950. Additionally, our average workweek is longer. Americans now work 47 hours a week which is about 164 more hours a year than 20 years ago.

The good news is sitting disease does not have to be your demise. Just because the typical workplace is mostly sedentary, doesn’t mean you have to be. The easiest way to increase activity levels is doing so during the workday.

Simply by swapping out your chair for a treadmill desk or bike desk for just a few hours a day, you can significantly reduce the effects caused by inactivity. Within a few weeks, your legs will be strengthened and stamina will increase. Soon enough you might feel more comfortable standing than sitting!