How To Get Out of a Sedentary Lifestyle

How To Get Out of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Too much sitting? 81 percent of UK office workers spend between four and nine hours each day sitting a desk

The dangers of sedentary lifestyle and how to beat them!

It is very easy to live a sedentary life in 2022. Many of us have desk jobs that involve sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day, we have cars to bring us anywhere that we need to go, we can get anything we need to be delivered to our front door, and we love to plonk ourselves on the sofa while we binge-watch shows for hours on end.

While life is certainly more comfortable now than it was for our ancestors, it is not necessarily better for our health. In this post, we are going to discuss the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle, why exercising a few times a week is not enough to protect your health, and give you some tips on how to change your daily habits to become more active.

Health risks of a sedentary lifestyle

It is easy to slide into a sedentary lifestyle, especially after the last two years of being cooped up in the house. It can also be difficult to recognise that it has happened – after all, if you are spending 8 hours a day at your desk, it is because you are focusing on your computer and doing mental work. Add on the demands of family life and you have got a packed day. Afterwards, you are going to feel tired, even though you have physically done very little.

Short and long term effects of a sedentary lifestyle

There are many health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle that affect all parts of the body. As we know, the less you move the fewer calories you burn, which is why you are more likely to be overweight or obese if you are sedentary. This puts a strain on the body and can lead to the development of heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, cancers, and respiratory conditions.

Health risks of a sedentary lifestyle

Even if you maintain a normal weight, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing a heart condition because the heart is a muscle that needs to be regularly trained if it is to remain strong. While we usually think about cardio exercise as being jogging or spinning, anything that gets your heart rate up counts as cardio, including simple everyday tasks like cleaning or walking to the local shop.

Similar to the regular training your heart needs, your muscles as a whole need to be used frequently. Your body is naturally programmed to stop fuelling muscles that are not being used as a means of conserving energy. Muscle wastage not only lowers your metabolic rate and softens your physique, it also leads to long-term bone loss (osteoporosis) and reduced mobility.

Sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles

Regularly engaging in cardio exercise and strength training is a great way to roll back on some of the risks outlined above; however, even 3-4 training sessions a week will not protect you from everything.

This is because the body has not evolved to do things in spits and spurts, it needs regular movement and activity to remain healthy. Think about it this way, there are 168 hours in a week. If you train 3-4 hours and spend the rest of your week in a sedentary position, do you really think that your body will be getting all it needs?

The good news is that, if you are already putting in the time at the gym, you have done most of the hard work. All you need to do is adopt some healthy habits to get your daily activity levels up. For example:

  • Go for a short walk after work every day. Not only is this good for your heart, but it will help you to transition from ‘work mode’ to ‘home mode’ if you are working from home. Aim to do at least 6,000 steps a day and progressively build up to 10,000
  • Go for a walk on an evening with a friend, a partner, the kids, or put in your headphones to take some time for yourself
  • Ditch the car – for journeys under 30 minutes
  • If you are catching a bus, walk on a few bus stops or get off a few stops earlier
  • Use your free time wisely. Plan activities with the kids or your friends that will get you out of the house (e.g. going to the zoo, a museum, a shopping centre)

But i workout

Are you easily deterred from walking by the rain or wind? Or maybe you do not feel comfortable going out in your local area after dark? A home treadmill enables you to get the benefits of walking and jogging from the comfort of your own home. You could even set it up in front of the TV, so you can watch a show while you exercise

Little changes, big results

Little changes to your daily routine can add up to a big result. If you have a wearable activity tracker, check your step count and calorie burn on an inactive day, then implement some of the changes outlined above to see for yourself the difference they make.

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