1. Definition of a sedentary lifestyle
People are spending more and more time doing sedentary activities. During our leisure time, we are often sitting: while using a computer or other device, watching TV, or playing video games. Many of our jobs have become more sedentary, with long days sitting at a desk. And the way most of us get around involves sitting – in cars, on buses, and on trains.
The Sedentary Behavior Research Network (SBRN) defined sedentary behavior as any activity involving sitting, reclining, or lying down that has a very low energy expenditure. The measurement for energy expenditure is metabolic equivalents (METs), and activities that expend 1.5 METs or less of energy can be included in the definition ofsedentary.
Another aspect of a sedentary lifestyle commonly noticed is bad eating habits. Eating chips, pizza, store-bought sugar drinks and having all sorts of junk is often linked to the couch-potato lifestyle. There is very little energy utility and almost no exercise (none in most cases).
2. What has prompted this sedentary behaviour?
Of the many positive changes that have taken place in our generation during the 21st century, one of the negative aspects has been in the form of an emerging and increasing trend in a sedentary lifestyle.
Compared to our grandparents or parents, there is a significant decrease in physical activity and a measurable rise in health complications. One of the glaring tell-tale signs of this is that the life expectancy of a person has decreased. Where on the one hand, our great grandparents lived till age 90 or 100, our generation hardly reaches the age of 60 in some modern societies. Our grandparents had in those times limited access to better healthcare, they even endured wars whereas our generation finds it difficult even to endure a month of stress.
3. Some of the reasons why this inactivity has increased are:
- Rise in desk jobs coupled with emerging technologies in the last few decades such as laptops and desktops
- An increasing the amount of time spent surfing on one’s smartphone
- Hours spent sitting during commute time to work
- Long work hours (being a workaholic) is associated with good work ethics
- Rise in-home delivery cultures has cut down on people’s need to visit stores physically
- An increase in taxi rentals has made people lazy
- Access to 24/7 entertainment has encouraged people, including young children, to find their social needs satisfied in front of a screen rather than outdoors.
4. What are the effects of this sedendary lifestyle on my health?
Having an inactive lifestyle can be one of the causes of many chronic diseases. By not getting regular exercise, you raise your risk of:
- Heart diseases, including coronary artery disease and heart attack
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers, including colon, breast, and uterine cancers
- Osteoporosis and falls
- Increased feelings of depression and anxiety
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can also raise your risk of premature death. And the more sedentary you are, the higher your health risks are.
5. Solutions to a sedentary lifestyle
It is best to combine a variety of cardiovascular exercises, such as running or cycling, with strength-training exercises, which can include weight training or body-weight exercises. Going for at least three 30-minute runs and doing two 30-minute sessions of strength-training exercises per week would be sufficient to meet the minimum physical activity guidelines.
People can reduce the amount of time they spend being sedentary by:
- standing rather than sitting on public transport (when safe to do so!)
- walking to work during cooler weather
- taking walks during lunch breaks – of course it is best to do indoors during the Dubai summers!
- setting reminders to stand up every 30 minutes when working at a desk
- investing in a standing desk or asking the workplace to provide one
- taking a walk or standing up during coffee or tea breaks
- spending more time doing chores around the house, especially DIY or gardening
- making excuses to leave the office or move around the building
- taking phone calls outside and walking around at the same time
- spending some free time being active rather than watching television or playing video games
- getting up and walking around during television commercials
- taking the stairs instead of using the elevator
6. The German Heart Centre way
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information on the topic.