Why is a sedentary lifestyle bad for your health?
In Europe, people spend an average of 7.26 hours, sitting per day. This sedentary lifestyle has serious consequences for our health. Which ones? Survey on sedentary lifestyle and its risks on our health.
Sedentary lifestyle: why is it important to get out of it?
Sedentary lifestyle: definition
The sedentary lifestyle is defined as a lifestyle characterized by low frequency or no displacement. Sedentary behavior is characterized by the time we spend in a sitting or lying position (excluding sleep): watching television, sitting in a car, in public transport, during meals, in the office, etc.
A sedentary lifestyle does not have physical activity in your daily life, therefore having an almost non-existent energy expenditure.
What exactly is a sedentary lifestyle? It depends on who you ask the question and, for the most part, it’s relative – which makes it a subject debated by scientists around the world. However, some fundamental characteristics define a sedentary lifestyle.
Sedentary activity is considered any waking activity while sitting or reclined and requires less than 1.5 METs (unit of metabolic energy). One MET measurement is equivalent to the level of energy you would expend while resting quietly, so 1.5 METs or less would be anything from sitting on the couch, lying down with a book, working while sitting at your desk, or drive a car.
From what threshold are we sedentary?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the sedentary lifestyle threshold from 8 hours of cumulative daily time in a sitting position.
Sedentary lifestyle and inactivity: what are the differences?
A distinction should be made between people without physical activity (really sedentary) and those who do not exercise but move daily. Some people think that they do not practice sports even though they walk a lot or take their bikes to work. In this case, they are not strictly speaking sedentary.
The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle on our health
A sedentary lifestyle is a global public health problem. According to WHO, the lack of exercise is the cause of 3.2 million deaths each year and represent the four the risk of death in the world, right after heart problems, diabetes, and cancer.
The concerns generated by physical inactivity are numerous: heart failure, blood circulation problems, risk of diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, muscle atrophy … Explanations:
- An increased risk of cardiovascular disease
When we move little, our various organs are used less and less, which makes them lose their efficiency:
- The heart works less: we then run out of steam faster, the heart becomes faster, and the tension increases. This predisposes to high blood pressure. In addition, the increased heart rate tires the heart and can make heart failure worse.
- The blood circulates less: causing a risk of venous insufficiency. Deposits can also form in the arteries, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis.
- We burn fewer calories: we gain weight, and we store fats that circulate in the blood, which increases the risk of hypercholesterolemia.
All this means that a sedentary lifestyle is a cardiovascular risk factor.
- Sedentary lifestyle and muscle wasting
Let’s talk about sarcopenia or muscle wasting. Indeed, by dint of no longer being solicited, some muscles melt. We lose strength, and asthenia sets in.
When you move little, the joints work less: you lose flexibility. The bones also lose their strength: there is a risk of osteoporosis, especially in women after menopause.
- Anxiety & Depression
While a sedentary lifestyle has significant consequences for physical health, mental health consequences are not negligible.
Sedentary lifestyle, a major cause of illness and disability
– The World Health Organization recalls today that lack of physical activity can have serious health consequences on World Health Day. It is credited with around two million deaths per year, prompting the WHO to issue a warning: sedentary lifestyle may well be among the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide.
The World Health Organization reminds us today that lack of physical activity can have serious consequences for health on World Health Day. It is credited with around two million deaths per year, prompting the WHO to issue a warning: sedentary lifestyle may well be among the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide.
World Health Day is held annually on April 7 and serves to educate the public on prevalent public health issues. By choosing physical activity as the theme for this day in 2002, WHO recommends adopting a healthy, active, and tobacco-free lifestyle. The aim is to avoid illnesses and disabilities caused by a sedentary lifestyle and harmful habits.
Sedentary lifestyle reinforces all causes of mortality, doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and increases the risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression, and anxiety. . According to the WHO, 60 to 85% of the world’s population, in both developed and developing countries, have a sedentary lifestyle, which makes it one of the most serious public health problems of our time, even if it does not yet receive enough attention. It is also estimated that two-thirds of children do not get enough physical activity, which will have serious consequences for their health in the future.
A sedentary lifestyle, along with the increase in smoking and dietary imbalances, takes an increasing part in the current lifestyle and leads to a rapid increase in the frequency of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or obesity. Chronic diseases linked to these risk factors are now the leading causes of death in all world regions, except in sub-Saharan Africa, where infectious diseases such as AIDS continue to predominate. In most cases, all of these diseases can be avoided. Countries and populations could save many lives and precious resources by investing in preventing these pathologies, recalls the WHO.
“Ideally, the habit of a healthy lifestyle, with regular physical activity and a balanced diet, is taken from childhood, and we hope that parents and schools everywhere will take advantage of this day to disseminate this message, said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO Director-General. We all need to be prepared to move for our health and adopt a healthy, active lifestyle. World Health Day 2002 calls on individuals, families, local authorities, and policymakers to take action for health”.
The WHO recommends moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day, stopping smoking, and a balanced diet among the preventive measures. In addition to individual lifestyle modifications, she recommends that authorities and politicians “move for health” and create a living environment favorable to the individual by taking various measures:
- Implementation of transport ensuring the safety of pedestrians and cyclists
- The legal ban on smoking in public buildings and places
- Creation of accessible parks, playgrounds, and community centers
- Promotion of physical activity programs in schools, communities, and health services
Tips for reaching 10,000 steps per day when you tend to be sedentary.
- Track your number of steps
To reach the objective of 10,000 steps set by the WHO, we must already know how many steps we take daily… For that, let us use the available technology. We are fortunate to have several tools at our disposal:
- The simplest solution: your smartphone. Almost all French people have one, and they are almost all equipped with a native step counting system. If not, download a free app. There are many:
- The cheapest solution is to take a pedometer that you keep in your pocket or clip to your belt.
- The most expensive solution: buy a bracelet or a connected watch that will facilitate the dynamic of getting back into shape.
- Avoid taking the car for short trips
This may seem obvious … Avoiding taking your car to get bread or accompany children to school allows you to increase your number of steps while clearing your mind considerably. Of course, this requires the motivation to leave earlier or plan less tight timings, but your legs will thank you!
- Favor the stairs
Another tip to increase your number of steps effortlessly: take the stairs. Bye-bye, the elevators, treadmills, and other escalators, and take the stairs. Also, these are free and accessible to all!
- Be more active at work
Most French people work in a predominantly seated position, which severely limits physical activity. To stop this is very simple. Here are a few tips:
- We regularly get up from our post to take a few steps.
- We do not hesitate to travel to see our colleagues rather than sending them an email or calling them for trivial information.
- We will eat outside our office (preferably on foot).
- We avoid taking the elevator to get upstairs.
- And don’t forget to campaign with your employer to establish sports lessons with a sports coach!
- Encourage the family to go out more often.
get out of your home as much as possible. Even on weekends, you can increase your daily number of steps by having a fun time with your family. Eat at a restaurant, go shopping at the market or the picking farm, go for a walk alone or with your loved ones… There are many ideas to be more active and less in front of the TV all weekend…
- Walk, Walk, Walk, and Walk Again
Seriously, walking more can have a real impact on your health! If you take public transportation, try getting off the train or bus one station early and walking the rest of the way to your destination. Do you drive a car to get to work? Park a few blocks from the office so you can squeeze a few more steps as you walk.
- Use a standing desk:
If you have a choice, try a standing desk. If you don’t have one in your work, you can also buy an adjustable one to place on your desk and adjust to your height. It may seem strange at first, but getting up while working is a great way to focus on the task at hand. Gradually increase your rest time – start by standing for thirty minutes or an hour a day and slowly increase this number over time.
- Stop Sitting:
Try to get up and go for a one-minute walk to the office every hour or so. Whether it’s brewing a hot cup of tea in the kitchen, doing meditative breathing exercises for a few minutes in the break room, or getting some fresh air, taking a few minutes to change locations every hour can be. Ideal for changing your daily routine and adding movement to your workday.
- Cycling to Work:
Why not cycle to work once a week? Much like standing desks, you can start with a modest goal and increase the number of times you cycle per week once you feel healthier and more confident. There’s no need to run to get to work – take your time and enjoy the commute. By the time you get to work, your endorphins will kick in and get you started in the day.
- Join a Class:
There’s something for everyone these days. From dancing to karate, you are sure to find a physical activity that you enjoy, and that will make your heartbeat faster. Your first class can often be discounted or even free so that you can try out different fitness classes and pick your favorite.
- Sign up for 8fit:
Of course, we have a soft spot for the 8fit app; nonetheless, it’s an easy and accessible way to get on your feet and get going. If the thought of stepping into a gym intimidates you, using a health & fitness app could be the perfect way to turn your sedentary lifestyle into an active one.
- Resume sport with a sports coach
If you really cannot reach the 10,000 steps per day, you can opt for a fitness coach who will help you resume physical activity appropriately and safely. He will motivate you by creating weekly appointments necessary to be in good health when you are too passive.
To take care of your physical and mental health, a good diet is necessary, but the practice of an adapted physical activity is just as essential.
Try for 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of activity per day to be in good health.
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