It is common to hear about sedentary lifestyles and sedentary lifestyles in today’s society, always with negative connotations. For people who are not aware that they suffer from this problem and for others who know about it, but are unaware of the seriousness of the problem, from Life Length we tell you what sedentary lifestyle is, how it affects our body and how we can solve it.
What is a sedentary lifestyle?
If we look at the definition offered by the Royal Spanish Academy, sedentary lifestyle is understood as “an occupation or way of life of little agitation or movement”. Therefore, a sedentary lifestyle is one in which activities of low physical demand predominate, such as those that can be done while sitting or even lying down.
How does it affect our organism?
The importance of rest is paramount, whether to maintain the proper functioning of our body on a daily basis, to improve our mood or to increase our athletic performance. At the same time, the body needs activity to be healthy. For this reason we list some of the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle on health:
- The development of cardiovascular pathologies. One of the alterations that a sedentary lifestyle produces in the body is an increase in blood pressure. When the pressure in our blood vessels is high for a prolonged period of time, the arteries can be damaged. Some of the diseases associated with high blood pressure are: aneurysm, heart attack, loss of vision or kidney failure, among others. A sedentary lifestyle accompanied by an unhealthy diet is the main factor associated with hypertension.
- Increased risk of obesity. Obesity currently represents a cause of danger of manifesting pathologies associated with the accumulation of fat in the body that exceeds established levels related to good health. Diet, metabolism and sedentary lifestyle are the main causes associated with obesity. These are some of the related problems that can develop: hypertension, with all the health risks it entails; sleep apnea, since 70% of people with this problem are obese; or type 2 diabetes.
- Loss of muscle mass. The decrease in muscle mass is a natural process that occurs from about the age of 30 onwards and can be slowed down by training. Although this deterioration is related to old age, there have been cases of people of earlier ages in which this sign associated with sedentary lifestyles can be seen. Physical efforts favor the production of muscle proteins that allow the locomotor apparatus to wear out more slowly. It must be taken into account that exercises should be moderate in intensity and should be performed regularly, since if they are of too high a magnitude there is a risk of injury.
- Development of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones, causing their density to decrease. As a consequence, people with this pathology are at greater risk of suffering a bone fracture and back pain, with the consequences that this entails. Sedentary behavior accelerates the osteoporosis process. On the other hand, training can increase the bone mineral density of our skeleton.
- Propensity to depression. Regular physical activity helps to reduce the risk of depression. In addition, people who exercise have a higher level of self esteem. Exercise helps to keep the body healthy and to have a better self-image, but it also brings discipline and order to the lives of people who include it in their routine.
How can we prevent a sedentary lifestyle in our daily lives?
If we look at the definition of a sedentary lifestyle, it might seem that nowadays it is difficult to combine working life with physical activity. A full working day implies dedicating 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Since it is recommended to sleep at least 8 hours, if we are lucky we have between 6 and 8 hours of free time in which we can exercise (not counting weekends).
From Life Length we recommend how to combat the sedentary lifestyle in the day to day:
- Take breaks at work. It is true that an active life seems incompatible with an office job, but the reality is a little different. Resting is essential to achieve maximum performance in any type of activity, and work is no exception. During physical labor, it is advisable to rest for 5 minutes every hour to stretch and relax the body. In an office job it is not necessary to do it so often if we are at the peak of productivity, but it is advisable to get up from the chair every two hours or so to rest our eyes and move to reactivate the circulation.
- Walk to places. Whether going to work, dinner or shopping, it is advisable to walk. We can get off at a stop before our destination to walk to it or park the car in a more secluded area. The idea is to take advantage of the fact that we have to move to exercise. It is important to consider that this is not always feasible and it is not advisable to walk when the weather is adverse, since we can suffer both an accident and a negative reaction from our body.
- Activate us at home. When we are at home, our sedentary behavior becomes more evident, since we choose by our own will to develop it this way. It is normal to relate the house with rest and take advantage of our home to replenish energy. However, the development of an active life depends on ourselves. We need to take breaks to change our posture and reactivate our circulation. In addition, we can carry out actions that keep us active, such as playing with our children, doing housework or doing joint mobility exercises every two hours.
- Sports practice. If you are not one of those people who have the willpower to train alone, perhaps starting to practice a sporting discipline will help you. Sports teach discipline, companionship and respect. They allow us to disconnect from our problems and can have a positive effect on our mood if we approach their practice in the right way. They are also the easiest way to exercise, since the commitment we make is usually not only to ourselves, but also to our coaches and, if it is a team sport, to our teammates. It is true that the risk of injury is high, especially in contact sports, so it is advisable to carry out sessions designed by experts and to warm up well at the beginning of each session.
As we have seen, a sedentary lifestyle represents an unhealthy lifestyle that in the long term brings with it many associated problems. Nowadays, people have routines and habits that favor inactivity, especially those who live in the city. However, we can improve our health by making minimal efforts to modify our habits.
Walking to buy bread, playing with our pet or sweeping the living room are small changes that, by moving away from a sedentary lifestyle, will help us live longer and better.