A sedentary lifestyle is a life of little or no activity. A person living sedentary lifestyle does not engage in a regular amount of physical activities as he/she is always sitting or lying down. According to World health Organization (WHO), “60 to 85% of people in the world—from both developed and developing countries—lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the more serious yet insufficiently addressed public health problems of our time”. Even children are not spared as it is estimated that nearly two-third of children are also insufficiently active, with serious implications for their future health.
According to the recommendation of Centre for Disease Control, for substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalence combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week. When an adult falls below this standard consistently, he is said to be living a sedentary lifestyle.
AT RISK OF SEDENTARY LIFESTYLES
There are some conditions that can predispose an individual to sedentary lifestyles, and these may include:
• Sex: Women are more likely to be inactive than men.
• Old age: Inactivity increases with age so older are less active.
• Type of Job: People who do desk jobs such as receptionists, cashiers, and customer care officers are usually physically inactive. CEOs and business men who are always in long hours meeting and conferences are also prone to sedentary lifestyle.
HEALTH EFFECTS OF SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
Every part of our body is designed to be put into constant use and once inactive begins to lose value.
Virtually all systems of the body are affected by inactivity and this result in series of diseases.
Physical inactivity does not only affect the way we look but has far reaching effects on the different systems of the body increasing the risk of a wide range of diseases such as:
Cardiovascular diseases: The heart, lungs, and blood vessels work together to pump blood and oxygen to all parts of your body and they constitute the cardiovascular system. In the sitting position, the curved spine prevents full expansion of the lungs leading to inadequate oxygen intake. With lesser oxygen reaching the heart, the heart is overworked trying to compensate the oxygen shortage. This makes the heart muscle to thicken and atrophy and also the blood vessels become thicker and less flexible due to accumulation of fat. These can lead to heart failure. Blood within the blood vessels become more viscous and can easily form clot which can result in stroke and heart attack.
Diabetes (type 2): Insulin regulates the amount of sugar in your blood stream by binding to cells so that the cells can absorb sugar from the blood and use it for energy. With physical inactivity muscle cells don’t use insulin as much, and the binding sites is lost gradually As a result, the body becomes less sensitive to the hormone and if this continues, the body may become totally unresponsive to insulin which is what happens in type 2 diabetes.
Obesity: Inactivity means most of the Consumed calories are not burnt but accumulate as fat in the body causing obesity
Cancer: Physical inactivity causes decreased bowel movement, allowing food to stay longer in the digestive tract. The longer food stays in the digestive tract the greater the risk of colon cancer. Also physical activities help to regulate the hormone oestrogen which impact breast and uterine cancers. Lack of physical activities increases the risk of a developing these cancers.
High blood pressure: Thickened blood vessels and increased blood viscosity as a result of physical inactivity will result in high blood pressure
Osteoporosis: When the bones are not actively used in moving around or supporting weight, they are broken down faster than they are rebuilt and it makes your bones weak, brittle and easy to break.
Mental health issues: Reduced oxygen supply to the brain due to physical inactivity can predispose to mental health problem.
Muscle degeneration: Physical inactivity makes your muscles domant and domant muscles are broken down (atrophied) by the body. Muscle degeneration causes weakness and activity intolerance.
Back pain: Sitting down persistently mounts pressure on the spine which leads to back pain.
Chronic diseases caused by these risk factors are now the leading causes of death in every part of world. The good news is that the risk of these diseases can be reduced by engaging in quality physical activities.
The excuse many people give is that they do not have enough time to exercise the muscles as their work is very demanding. Well, there are ways that you can workout even at your work place without the need for a gym or thread-mill. Here are some ways you can enliven your muscles:
Stretching, bending and turning exercises. These activities can be done at work places. All you need to do is set aside 10 minutes each hour to do these exercises. No much space is required to do all these. Your desk space is roomy enough.
Going for a walk at lunch time. Instead of ordering for your lunch to be brought to your desk, you can walk some distance of about 10 minutes to an eatery close to your office and get a healthy meal. This helps to increase circulation and burning of unnecessary calories.
Reduce the use of mails within the office premises. By walking to your colleague’s desk to talk to him instead of sending mails, you work your muscles and increase the movement of oxygen to those vital organs in the body.
Learn to stand. Make it a habit to stand and answer calls or read magazines or newspapers when you are less busy in the office. Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting. Do this more often and you will be far from developing those life-threatening conditions mentioned.
And above all, if you don’t live far from your work place, you can always take a brisk walk to work and back home even if you have a car at your reach. Doing these things have positive healthy effect and will help you live a long healthy live.
• Physical Activity Guidelines for American, 2008.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/policies_practices/physical_activity/guidelines.htm
• Physical inactivity a leading cause of diseases and disability. WHO,http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/release23/en/
• David Dunstan, PhD, physical activity laboratory head, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
• James Levine, MD, PhD, medicine professor, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
• Fabio Comana, continuing education director, National Academy of Sports Medicine; Lecturer, San Diego State University’s School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences; former exercise physiologist, American Council on Exercise.
• Dunstan, D. Circulation, Jan. 26, 2010.