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Let's be honest, how often did you go for a jog or workout during the pandemic? When was the last time you picked up those dumbbells and worked up a sweat? If you don't remember, you are most likely living a sedentary lifestyle.
Aside from Coronavirus, another issue afflicting humanity today is sedentary living. A sedentary lifestyle, also known as an inactive lifestyle, involves sedentary behavior, which means being at rest for an extended period or getting little to no exercise. It is yet another plague that gradually raises your risk of developing various chronic illnesses.
You may not see it on the onset, but it won't take long for sedentary lifestyle effects to become apparent and wreak havoc on your health. In fact, according to research, it only takes two weeks of inactivity to cause significant health effects such as decreased insulin sensitivity and reduced muscle mass. Physical inactivity also contributes significantly to poor mental health and social isolation.
Dare we ask how many weeks you have been inactive?
What is Considered a Sedentary Lifestyle?
Sedentary behaviours include low-energy expenditure activities. It consists of any time a person is sitting or lying down, such as while watching TV, playing video games, commuting, or working in front of a computer.
If you're not sure whether your habits are sedentary, there are significant signs to keep an eye on to see if you're not moving enough in your daily life. These signs include spending more time not moving. Try to count the number of hours you sleep and subtract that from 24 hours. The number you’ll get represents the number of hours you’ll spend living and doing activities during the day. If you spend more than half of that time sitting and not moving, then you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Moreover, if you do not meet the global health recommendation of 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, you're not moving enough.
How the Pandemic Contributes to Sedentary Lifestyle Effects
COVID-19 has widely affected nearly every person on the planet. Many countries implemented lockdowns as the number of cases increases. Likewise, countries have implemented lockdown measures to prevent Coronavirus spread and now, they’re taking a toll on everyone.
People's personal or professional lives are becoming more constrained as a result of work-from-home schemes. In addition, sudden lockdown announcements have resulted in a change in people's lifestyles, including physical activities and worsened sedentary lifestyle effects.
The closure of gyms and fitness activity centres, has resulted in many people's lack of fitness motivation. Even if people can exercise at home, the absence of others resulted in a lack of motivation to exercise. It turns out that people are motivated when they see others exercising or participating in fitness activities. And now that the gyms and even the morning walk parks are closed, they are disinclined to exercise.
Because people are stuck at home worldwide, it has created a state of uncertainty about an individual's future, their family, or the community, resulting in feelings of anxiety, frustration, fear, and stress. Individuals in lockdown experience unexplained laziness and fatigue, causing them to lead sedentary lives.
Being confined to one's home every day without a set routine has resulted in an irregular sleep-wake cycle. The monotonous life cycle leads to a state of sluggishness and mental exhaustion. People in lockdown have been sleeping a lot and have had little time to exercise or go to the gym.
The COVID-19 virus is spreading throughout the world, prompting countries to implement social isolation and lockdowns. However, because businesses must continue to operate, they have shifted to a work-from-home setup. Workers used to sit in front of their computers for hours before the pandemic, but now people spend more time sitting than ever.
People are spending more time online to connect with others virtually as a result of social distancing. People used social media to pass the time, but it turned out that people were using it too much during the pandemic, which resulted in a disconnect from fitness activities.
Health Risks of Leading an Inactive Lifestyle
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety.
A study conducted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada found a link between increased sedentary behaviour and the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults. In women, physical inactivity has been linked to pulmonary embolism, while prolonged work and computer-related seated immobility has been linked to an increased risk of venous thromboembolism.
A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to a higher risk of cancer. Adiposity, or excess body weight caused by inactivity, has been found to facilitate carcinogens through insulin resistance and chronic inflammation.
Sedentary lifestyles have been found to contribute to type 2 diabetes in adults. People who watched more than two hours of television per day had a 20% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Since you’re not engaging in any activities that use your muscles when you’re always sedentary, you may lose muscle strength and endurance, resulting in poorer grip strength.
Scientists attribute the recent increase in osteoporosis to a lack of activity. Standing, walking, and running cause the hip and lower-body bones to thicken, densify, and strengthen.
Not moving enough every day harms mental well-being. A study shows that at least among overweight/obese adults, increasing moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity and decreasing sedentary time was associated with a lower risk of depression.
What Can You Do to Combat Sedentary Lifestyle Effects?
If you think you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle, don’t fret, it is not too late for you to resume your active lifestyle. It can be difficult to fit physical fitness into a busy workday because people spend so much time in front of computers, but there are things you can do at work or at home to help you get moving.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hampered almost all of humanity’s daily activities, worsening our physical and mental well-being and forcing us to lead sedentary lifestyles. To top it all off, it contributed immensely to the sedentary lifestyles effects.
An excellent start to reducing the risk of a sedentary lifestyle is being aware that you’re living in one. With this in mind, you can get moving. Start small and be consistent because, over time, they lead to significant results. You might want to start slowly, so you don't feel overwhelmed. Just do what you can and gradually add more exercise.