Break Free from a Sedentary Lifestyle and Boost Your Health with these expert tips

Amcec Health
Jul 25 2023
5 Min. Read
Reviewed by

Desmond Croker RN, Dip. OHS, BSN, MSN, CCDE

July 25 2023

Health Tips
Self Care

You’ll probably have heard in the media that too many of us are living a sedentary lifestyle but what does this mean?  

Sedentary lifestyles are defined as a way of living where you spend most of your day sitting on a chair, couch, or bed and don’t do enough physical activity. The current recommendations by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) are that we should all do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every day or, alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Walking around 10,000 steps every day is recommended as the optimal goal to improve your health and to reduce the possible health risks which occur as a result of inactivity.  

The WHO (World Health Organization) says that up to 85 percent of the world’s population isn’t physically active enough and this makes the sedentary lifestyle the fourth top risk factor around the globe for mortality. 

Traditionally, we are led to believe that eating healthily and taking some aerobic exercise can offset all the effects caused by spending excessive time sitting down.

However, evidence now shows that if you exercise for half an hour a day, you still may be unable to mitigate the potential damage. The best solution appears to be to reduce the amount of time spent sitting down and increase the amount of time we spend moving every day. 

Sedentary lifestyle results in numerous negative effects. Whether you’re working every day at a desk or driving a bus or taxi, you are putting yourself at risk of the following problems: 

  1. A higher risk of developing certain cancers 
  2. A greater risk of developing depression and anxiety ∙ A higher chance of suffering from certain cardiovascular problems 
  3. A greater chance of becoming obese or overweight ∙ Reduced skeletal muscle mass 
  4. Higher blood pressure 
  5. Raised cholesterol levels  

It has been estimated that, around the world, sedentary lifestyles cause 6 percent of all cases of coronary heart disease, 7 percent of all cases of type II diabetes, 10 percent of all cases of breast cancer and 10 percent of all cases of colon cancer. It has even been reported recently that inactive lifestyles cause more deaths every year than smoking. 

We are more sedentary today than we ever have been in the past because technology has changed how we live our lives. 50 years ago, fewer people used cars and had desk jobs. 

They also had more physical hobbies and pastimes rather than watching TV and playing video games. The number of sedentary jobs has increased by over 80 percent since the 1950s, and when we add into that the fact that we now have longer average working weeks, that is a lot more time spent sitting on a chair. 

It’s clear that finding ways to counteract the negative impact of the sedentary lifestyle is imperative, but luckily there are several biohacking changes you can implement to improve your health, fitness and wellness overall. 

Get More Active: Best approach to take

We all know that we should get plenty of physical exercise to stay in peak physical and mental shape. However, regardless of this widespread knowledge, many of us still aren’t getting the recommended amount of activity on a daily or weekly basis.

How can you achieve this when you’re on a tight schedule? Below, we look at some of the benefits of being more physical and some inventive ways to increase the amount of activity you can fit into your everyday life.  

  • Switch to a standing desk rather than a regular one. Standing uses more muscles than sitting and can improve your posture, breathing, and productivity. You can also try a treadmill desk or a bike desk if you want to add some movement while you work. Research has shown that standing desks can lower blood sugar levels, reduce back pain, and improve mood and energy levels. However, standing too much can also cause problems such as leg fatigue, varicose veins, and foot pain. Therefore, it is important to alternate between sitting and standing every hour and to wear comfortable shoes and use an anti-fatigue mat.

  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Climbing stairs can improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, strengthen your leg muscles, and burn more calories than walking on a flat surface. Research has shown that stair climbing can lower the risk of stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. It can also boost your brain function, mood, and creativity. To make stair climbing more fun and challenging, you can try different speeds, intervals, or patterns. You can also use a fitness tracker or app to monitor your progress and set goals.

  • Add simple exercises into your daily routine. You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to work out your muscles. You can do squats, dips, push-ups, or planks at your desk, chair, or countertop. You can also balance on one leg while brushing your teeth or do some stretches while watching TV. These exercises can help you improve your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. They can also prevent muscle loss, joint stiffness, and posture problems that can occur from sitting too much. To make these exercises more effective and enjoyable, you can vary the intensity, duration, and frequency. You can also listen to music or podcasts or watch videos while you exercise.

  • Ditch the car and walk or bike instead. Walking or biking to work or the store can help you get some fresh air, sunlight, and cardio exercise. Research has shown that walking or biking can lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and depression. It can also improve your cognitive function, memory, and creativity. Walking or biking can also save you money on gas, parking, and maintenance. To make walking or biking more safe and comfortable, you should wear appropriate clothing and gear, follow traffic rules, and choose routes that are well-lit and have sidewalks or bike lanes.

  • Use a resistance ball instead of a regular chair. Sitting on a resistance ball can help you improve your balance, core strength, and flexibility. You can also do some exercises on the ball such as sit-ups or twists. Research has shown that using a resistance ball can reduce lower back pain, improve spinal alignment, and increase abdominal muscle activation. However, using a resistance ball can also pose some risks such as falling off the ball, overstretching the muscles, or causing spinal instability. Therefore, it is important to use a ball that is the right size for your height and weight, to inflate it properly, and to use it for short periods of time.

  • Take short walks during the day. Instead of sitting at your desk during your lunch break or coffee break, take a quick walk around the block or the park. Just 10 minutes of walking can boost your mood and energy levels. Research has shown that walking can reduce stress hormones, improve blood circulation, and enhance brain function. Walking can also help you socialize with your colleagues or friends, enjoy nature, or explore new places. To make walking more fun and rewarding, you can join a walking group or club, use a pedometer or app to track your steps and distance, or challenge yourself with different routes or terrains.

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