The risks of sedentary living | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

As Plato aptly put it, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being.” In short, exercise preserves physical health. The question is, are you exercising?

The human body is genetically programmed to move frequently. While modern technology makes life easier, it can become an obstacle to physical activity. For example, sitting in front of a laptop all day will make a person less physically inclined to move around.

In other words, “getting off one’s butt” isn’t a popular choice as against surfing the net or playing video games. In fact, gadgets have influenced people to become less social.

Human beings have evolved over the last million years from a fight-or-flight survival mode. Today, convenience through technological advances allows individuals to communicate faster without having to get up from one’s chair.

Think about it: Prehistoric man didn’t have a chair to sit on. He was always on the move. There was no excuse for being sedentary.

Now there is such a thing as diseases caused by inactivity. While the very act of sitting isn’t wrong, it will become detrimental to your health if you are a chronic sitter.

Diabetes and heart disease have been linked to a sedentary life. If you spend a large part of your day without any form of exercise, you are at risk of developing a lifestyle disease such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease.

Sitting too much for too long increases the risk of breast and colon cancer.

In fact, inactivity, especially prolonged sitting, is being placed in the same danger category as smoking!

In a 2012 study led by researchers from Harvard and published in the Lancet, it was determined that inactivity was connected to over 5 million deaths worldwide—more than the number of deaths caused by smoking.

But this doesn’t justify the choice of smoking over exercise. Chances are, if you do not exercise, you could be a candidate for depression.

Blood circulation

It is also understandable that if you sit for prolonged periods, your blood circulation is compromised. Moreover, your lymphatic system will not be activated to move around and collect the toxins within your body. Worse, your feel-good hormones are reduced.

Other biological effects include a negative influence on appetite, blood sugar balance, blood pressure, hormone production and blood fat.

Dieters, beware. There is a particular metabolic activity level the body needs. Inactivity will slow down circulation, increase blood fat and raise blood sugar levels. The result: a heart at great risk for cardiovascular problems.

The World Health Organization published “Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health in 2010,” which cites sedentary living as a risk factor for global mortality. Here are the top five risks:

1) High blood pressure
2) Tobacco usage
3) High blood glucose
4) Physical inactivity
5) Obesity/overweight

Another study, published in 2015, revealed that a high fitness level may lower the risk for cancer. The America Institute for Cancer Research has linked physical activity with a reduced risk for many forms of cancer.

Muscle mass, strength and function play a positive role in recovering from illness. Sarcopenia, the deterioration of muscle mass, is a sign of aging. The progressive loss of muscle may lead to eventual loss of life because of the illnesses a sedentary lifestyle brings on.

Here is a quick test. Try it at home. Try to sit on the floor. Get up without using any support as you stand. If you can do it by using only one hand, then this puts you in the top 25 percent in terms of musculoskeletal fitness.

If you cannot get up, then your health risks are much higher.

The prognosis: You will live longer if you can sit on the floor and stand unassisted.

This week’s affirmation: “I will keep on moving.”

Love and light!

(Reference: “The Lucky Years,” David B. Agus, M.D.)