Having an inactive lifestyle can be one of the causes of many chronic diseases. By not getting regular exercise, you raise your risk of:
- Heart diseases, including coronary artery disease and heart attack
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers, including colon, breast, and uterine cancers
- Osteoporosis and falls
- Increased feelings of depression and anxiety
How does an inactive lifestyle affect your body?
When you have an inactive lifestyle:
- You burn fewer calories. This makes you more likely to gain weight.
- You may lose muscle strength and endurance, because you are not using your muscles as much
- Your bones may get weaker and lose some mineral content
- Your metabolism may be affected, and your body may have more trouble breaking down fats and sugars
- Your immune system may not work as well
- You may have poorer blood circulation
- Your body may have more inflammation
- You may develop a hormonal imbalance
Solutions to a sedentary lifestyle
A more active lifestyle can significantly reduce the chances of chronic health conditions, mental health disorders, and premature death.
Increasing physical activity
Research has shown that physical activity, including exercise and sports, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and early death.
Evidence also consistently shows that exercise can improve mental health. A 2018 study of 1,237,194 people found that those who exercised reported fewer mental health problems than those who did not.
It is best to combine a variety of cardiovascular exercises, such as running or cycling, with strength-training exercises, which can include weight training or body-weight exercises. Going for at least three 30-minute runs and doing two 30-minute sessions of strength-training exercises per week would be sufficient to meet the minimum physical activity guidelines.
Reducing the time spent being sedentary
Physical activity is important, but spending the majority of the day being sedentary is still dangerous.
People can reduce the amount of time they spend being sedentary by:
- standing rather than sitting on public transport
- walking to work
- taking walks during lunch breaks
- setting reminders to stand up every 30 minutes when working at a desk
- investing in a standing desk or asking the workplace to provide one
- taking a walk or standing up during coffee or tea breaks
- spending more time doing chores around the house, especially DIY or gardening
- making excuses to leave the office or move around the building
- taking phone calls outside and walking around at the same time
- spending some free time being active rather than watching television or playing video games
- getting up and walking around during television commercials
- taking the stairs instead of using the elevator
Written by: Ruth Olusegun