While there are obviously innumerable conveniences that make modern life much more pleasant, these conveniences have also made us become much too sedentary.
Sitting on our duffs, whether at work or at home can cause a multitude of serious health problems.
You are not even safe from the deleterious effects of a sedentary lifestyle if you exercise regularly.
While the problems with sitting too long are most dangerous for those over 60, they can cause difficulties in persons of nearly any age.
Why Being Sedentary Is Bad for You
Many of us work at the computer all day, and then relax by watching television or playing a video game in the evening.
All this sitting really does add up, and it’s quite possible to spend more than 60 hours a week plopped down in a chair or on the couch. Oddly enough, even if you exercise regularly, every day, it will not cancel out the negative effects of sitting.
- So many people are pear-shaped today not necessarily because they are over-eating, but because they are over-sitting. When you sit for long periods, your body turns on you and doubles the amount of fat that it would normally accumulate. If you are dismayed at the size of your tummy or behind, even if you’ve been watching what you eat, sitting may be the culprit.
- Muscular atrophy is another result of being sedentary. When muscles aren’t used, they become weak and actually shrink in size. Lack of strength often translates into a lack of balance, which can lead to falls and fractures, especially in older people.
- Being sedentary can lead to stress. You may think that just sitting around for hours at a time is relaxing, but evidently the opposite is true. Not only will you become stressed from this kind of lifestyle, but you will be more prone to becoming depressed.
- Women, especially, should understand that sitting all day can lead to osteoporosis – the deterioration of the bones that can occur after menopause. Lack of resistance on the bones leads to loss of bone tissue and osteoporosis.
- Sitting all day is also a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. When you are inactive for much of your waking hours, not only do your leg and arm muscles become ‘flabby’, but also that important heart muscle. Being sedentary reduces circulation and will contribute also to high blood pressure which in turn increases the probability of having a heart attack.
- Type 2 diabetes is the bane of people in their middle years. This is the time when the body naturally slows down a bit and weight begins to accumulate. It’s easy to see how being glued to a chair for much of the day can cause you to get heavier and make it more likely that this form of diabetes will result.
Getting Out of the Sedentary Rut
Few of us are going to have the option of simply quitting our jobs in front of the computer and using our newly free time to exercise, and actually this is not even necessary. You don’t have to dedicate yourself to bodybuilding or be an exercise fanatic to avoid the health problems that a sedentary lifestyle lead to; you simply can do a few easy things to keep yourself fit and healthy:
- Every hour that you spend sitting should be broken up with a 10 minute walkabout. Just getting up and moving around can counteract the bad effects of sitting. Not only will you find that some of that weight you have been gaining will probably start to melt away, but you will also feel sharper mentally.
- Some regular exercise, of a moderate kind, such as sensible strength training, done for about 4 hours over the span of a week can keep you in shape, especially when combined with the walkabout.
- If it’s been a long time since you’ve exercised, you probably will experience pain in your muscles and possibly your joints. You might also experience a sprain or strain. If you feel uncomfortable after exercising, don’t give up on it, schedule a massage. Your therapist can help to soothe away those aches and pains and help prepare your muscles for coming activities. Massage therapy also helps to increase the flexibility of your joints, making it less likely that you will experience pain in the future.
Getting out of the sedentary rut is actually easier than you may think, you will feel better now and increase your chances for a long, healthy life.