Does your work require you to sit in one place for several hours? Many of us spend hours in front of a computer or laptop in mildly uncomfortable positions. Due to work, we may not get time to do much physical activity either.
Our sedentary lifestyles cause great harm to our bodies in the long term – but we often don’t realize this. There is a considerable impact on our health and wellness due to medical conditions like dementia, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, etc. that result from little or no physical activity.
In this post, we share seven negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle:
- Heart disease
Studies have shown that prolonged periods of sitting can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, sedentary behaviour has been linked to more than 30 chronic diseases and conditions, including a 147% increase in heart disease risk. Extended periods of inactivity can also disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure.
- Mental health problems
A study with over 10,000 participants with a sedentary lifestyle and limited physical activity showed that such people are more at risk to develop a mental health disorder. Another review with data from over 110,000 participants associated an increased risk of depression with people who had a sedentary lifestyle. If you sit for more than 6 hours a day, you are likely to feel moderate psychological distress and experience low moods.
A sedentary lifestyle (walking fewer than 1,500 steps per day) can cause a major increase in insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes by 112%.
- Early death
A study that analysed data collected over 15 years found that there was an increased risk of early death for people with sedentary lifestyles. Most sedentary people have a 22-49% chance of dying early.
- Troubled sleep
Even 20 minutes of exercise a day improves the quality of a night’s sleep. A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of daytime sleepiness, something which can be reduced with regular physical activity.
- Increased risk of dementia
Inactivity causes memory loss and in adults over the age of 65, increases the risk of developing dementia. Middle-aged adults who have sedentary lifestyles are also more likely to develop dementia. In fact, sedentary lifestyles are just as likely to make one develop dementia as those who are biologically predisposed to it.
- Varicose veins & deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Sitting for long periods can lead to varicose veins in your legs, which in turn can lead to deep vein thrombosis. This can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can also lead to death.
It may not be necessary or possible to change your lifestyle drastically to reduce the ill effects of being sedentary. Regular exercise and physical activity such as going for daily walks or using a device like the SitWalker that uses the same calf muscles used during walking can improve blood circulation and boost your immunity.
Ensure that you do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week to combat long-term illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, dementia due to a sedentary lifestyle.