Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle

Sedentary lifestyle

Sedentary lifestyle is a lifestyle type, in which one is physically inactive and does little or no physical movement and or exercise A person living a sedentary lifestyle is often sitting or lying down while engaged in an activity like socializing, watching TV, playing video games, reading or using a mobile phone or computer for much of the day. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor health quality, diseases as well as many preventable causes of death.

Sedentary behavior is not the same as physical inactivity: sedentary behavior is defined as “any waking behavior characterized by an energy expenditure less than or equal to 1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture  Spending most waking hours sitting does not necessarily mean that an individual is sedentary, though sitting and lying down most frequently are sedentary behaviors. Esmonde-White defines a sedentary lifestyle as a lifestyle that involves “longer than six hours a day” of sedentary behavior. 

A sedentary lifestyle contributes to or can be a risk factor for:

sedentary lifestyle contributes to or can be a risk factor for:

How can I get started with exercise?

If you have been inactive, you may need to start slowly. You can keep adding more exercise gradually. The more you can do, the better. But try not to feel overwhelmed, and do what you can. Getting some exercise is always better than getting none. Eventually, your goal can be to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age and health.

There are many different ways to get exercise; it is important to find the types that are best for you. You can also try to add activity to your life in smaller ways, such as at home and at work.

At work

How can I be more active around the house?

  • Standing rather than sitting on the subway or train
  • Ask for or invest in a standing desk or set up shop on a tall countertop
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Stand up while talking on the phone
  • Walk for at least 30 minutes outside (weather permitting) or around the building during your lunch break
  • End the day with a 10-20 minute brisk walk around the building
  • Walk to a colleague’s office instead of sending an email
  • Have a walking or standing meeting with coworkers instead of sitting in a conference room
  • Get up and stretch or take a quick walk every hour on the hour

How can I be more active around the house?

At home

  • Stand and fold laundry while watching TV
  • Tidy up around the house, you’d be surprised the calorie burn!
  • Stand or pace around the house while you’re talking on the phone
  • Play with your pets and go for an extra walk or two
  • Park a bit farther away to get a few more steps in and avoid the parking madness
  • Take a dance break! Put on your favourite music and get moving

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. A combination of both is preferred, especially if spread throughout the week. An hour or even a half hour of exercise can seem daunting, and you can certainly break up your activity throughout the day but aim for no less than 10 minutes at a time: try 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes before lunch, and 10 minutes in the evening to get a total of 30 minutes.

The habit of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a nutritious diet ideally begins in childhood and we hope that parents and schools everywhere will use this day to spread this message,” said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO’s Director-General. “We should all be ready to move for health and to adopt healthy and active lifestyles. World Health Day 2002 is a call to action to individuals, families, communities governments and policy-makers to move for health,” she added.

Among the preventive measures recommended by WHO are moderate physical activity for up to 30 minutes every day, tobacco cessation, and healthy nutrition. In addition to individual lifestyle changes, governments and policy makers are also recommended to “move for health” by creating a supportive environment for people. Among the measures recommended: implementing transportation policies that make it safer for people to walk and ride bicycles; legislating tobacco-free public buildings and spaces; building accessible parks, playgrounds and community centres; and promoting physical activity programmes in schools, communities and health services.

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