Most health professionals define a sedentary lifestyle as one that does not meet the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for exercise. The CDC states that someone should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week. This includes sitting for extended periods and not moving around enough whether during work hours or leisure time.
Lack of exercise is a common cause of a broad range of medical problems that can impact both your physical and mental well-being. Understanding the risks can motivate you to incorporate more physical activity into your daily life, starting with small changes and gradually building up your exercise routine.
#1 Cardiovascular Diseases
Along with tobacco use and alcohol, studies recognize physical inactivity as a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases. Given that your heart is a muscle and also needs regular stimulation through exercise to stay healthy.
A sedentary lifestyle can weaken your heart and lead to reduced blood circulation which can result in high blood pressure and either a stroke or a heart attack.
#2 Chronic Back Pain
Extended sitting can lead to weaker core muscles and lower back pain. Poor posture such as slouching are leading causes of backaches. Computer and desk work are common culprits and add strain on the discs which can result in disc degeneration.
If you have persistent back pain even after becoming more active, you may want to consult a physical therapist. They can provide recommendations to improve your back health and tailor a spine rehabilitation treatment plan to your specific needs.
A balanced diet is vital to support your health. However, physical activity also plays an important role because you need to consume an adequate number of calories to avoid gaining weight. You are at risk of becoming overweight or obese if you have a sedentary lifestyle.
Obesity is a risk factor for cancer and other health issues associated with a lack of physical activity. Excess weight can also negatively affect your quality of life and your mental and emotional well-being.
#4 Type 2 Diabetes
A sedentary lifestyle can result in developing type 2 diabetes where your body has difficulties maintaining healthy glucose levels in your bloodstream. In turn, type 2 diabetes can negatively affect various body functions including your nervous and immune systems.
If you do not take regular breaks to stand up and stretch your legs, this can impact your blood sugar levels and turn into one or more chronic health issues. Even moving around for at least a minute for every 30 minutes you spend sitting can help regulate your blood sugar levels.
Maintaining bone density is a common issue as we get older and can lead to osteoporosis which means that your bones are weaker and more prone to cracks and fractures. This also increases your risk of injury if you fall or bend down.
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the many factors that can cause osteoporosis. Regular physical activity during your adult years helps minimize your risk of developing this health condition and generally supports your bone health.
#6 Mental Health Problems
Many people associate a sedentary lifestyle with potential physical health issues. However, it can also affect your cognitive abilities and your mental health.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to:
- Memory issues
- Difficulty concentrating
Physical activity is an effective stress relief strategy and can promote increased energy levels, improved mood, and quality sleep. All of those can play a positive role in supporting your overall well-being.
How to Become More Physically Active
When you decide to be more physically active, your options may seem overwhelming. The key to success is to incorporate more movement into your everyday tasks and build an exercise routine gradually. While your goal should be to meet the recommended exercise, adding more movement into your life bit by bit can help you remain consistent in the long term.
You can start by finding ways to move around more at home or work such as:
- Housework and gardening
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park further away from your office
- Stretch or do some yoga while watching TV
- Go for a walk
- Get up and stretch your legs at least once an hour
- Use a standing desk
As for your workout options, you can exercise at home or join a gym depending on what type of activity you are interested in pursuing. If you are unsure what type of exercise suits your health and goals, you can talk to your doctor.
Do you need a reliable physical therapist in Monmouth or Middlesex Counties? Contact ProFysio Physical Therapy today at (732) 812-5200 to schedule an appointment!