In this article: Learn about ‘The sedentary Disease‘ – How the sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity is a leading cause of disease and disability. And how not to let this happen to you.
Throughout history, humans have needed to stay active to survive. From hunter-gatherers who moved across the land to find food to farmers who planted, tended, and harvest crops; to tradespeople who built and maintained roads and buildings, human have a long history of physical activity.
Yet, the modern world, full of screen time and other passive pursuits, has decreased humans’ level of physical activity. This decrease has led to the rise of chronic health conditions, obesity, and early deaths.
Physical inactivity has led to the rise of sedentary disease, a metabolic syndrome that increases the risk for chronic medical conditions.
Scientists have found that different physical inactivity and activity levels play a direct role in peoples’ health.
By understanding the risks of a sedentary lifestyle and getting motivated to move, you can avoid the disease and disability associated with sedentary disease.
Definitions: The Differences between Sedentary, Light Intensity, and Moderate-To-Vigorous Activity
In a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers define these terms by calculating the energy-expenditure of activity in multiples of the basal metabolic rate (METs).
The basal metabolic rate is the expenditure of energy of an animal at rest. The basal metabolic rate measures the energy it takes to breathe, keep your heart beating, hold your body in position, and continue essential body functions that keep you alive.
As you move, the METs of activity are measured by the average amount the activity raises your metabolism from when you were at rest. By calculating METs, researchers developed these definitions:
This comes from the Latin word severe, meaning to sit. Sedentary activities have a MET level of 1.0 to 1.5
Examples of sedentary activities include:
- Driving or riding in a car
- Working on a computer
- Sitting in a meeting
- Watching TV
2| Moderate To Vigorous Physical Activity
These activities reach a METs level of 3 to 8, depending on the intensity.
Examples of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity include:
- Walking or Running
- Exercises such as yoga, aerobics, or strength training
3| Light Intensity
These activities are done while standing, which raises the MET level but does not require more than 2.9 METs to perform. Light intensity activities are usually the same as moderate-to-vigorous activities but are done at a slower pace. An example would be taking a leisurely walk versus taking a brisk walk on a route with hills.
“Sitting time” is a term scientists use to group the time spent in all sedentary behaviors.
Monitoring sitting time is important for two reasons.
First, sitting time decreases the time available for moderate-to-vigorous activity. Secondly, the more sitting time replaces light-intensity activity, the less overall activity a person does.
According to a study published in the Exercise and Sports Science Reviews journal, two hours of light intensity activity equals 30 minutes of moderate activity like walking.
The Risks of Being Sedentary: What The Science Shows
Why are the decrease in activity levels and the increase in sitting time so important? Doctors are seeing a rise in sedentary disease, including chronic medical conditions and early deaths.
The Statistics are Shocking
- Sedentary lifestyle doubles the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. (World Health Organization (WHO))
- Men who rode >10 hours a week in a car had an 82% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and men who spent >23 hours a week riding in a car and watching TV combined had a 64% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. (Study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise)
- Physical inactivity accounted for 5.3 million deaths globally in 2008. (Study published in the journal Circulation Research)
- An extended period of sedentary behavior increases the risk for diabetes by 112%. (Study published in the journal Diabetologia)
- Sitting for more than seven hours a day increases the risk for depression by 47%. (Study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine)
- A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 12%. (Study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease)
Multiple studies point to the health risks associated with sedentary disease. While chronic medical conditions can be caused by more than one risk factor, sedentary disease plays a major role in developing these conditions.
- 60-85% of the world’s pollution have sedentary lifestyles. (WHO)
- Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950 (American Heart Association)
- American adults average 7.7 hours a day being sedentary. (Study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology)
- During the Paleolithic era, men averaged between 13,000, and 21,000 steps, and women averaged approximately 11,000 steps per day. In the United States today, men and women average about 5,000 steps per day. (Studies in the American Journal of Medicine and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise)
- 25% of Americans spend more than eight hours a day sitting (Centers for Disease Control (CDC))
People across the world are spending more time sitting and less time being physically active. However, increasing your physical activity can make a substantial difference in the risk of disease and premature death.
- Two minutes of physical activity every hour can lower the risk of premature death by 33%. (Study by the University of Utah School of Medicine)
- Light intensity activity increased life expectancy by three years compared to sedentary individuals. (Study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport)
- People who sit for 30 minutes or less at a time have a 55% lower risk of death than those that sit for longer periods. (Study by the Columbia University Department of Medicine)
How Being Sedentary Affects Your Metabolism
In a series of studies published in the Exercise and Sport Science Reviews journal, researchers used rat models to determine how sedentary behavior affects metabolism.
The rat models showed a decrease in lipoprotein lipase while being sedentary, which causes the liver to destroy bad cholesterol or LDL. Sedentary behavior also increased triglycerides, or fatty acid levels, in the muscles.
Mitochondria within the body’s cells produce energy that allows the cells to function. Scientists have found mitochondrial dysfunction is a significant source of oxidative stress.
Oxidative distress develops when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants within your body. Sedentary behavior lowers the levels of key regulators of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress.
This can lead to a variety of physical symptoms, including:
- Memory Loss
- Muscle and Joint Pain
- Decreased Eyesight
- Susceptibility to Infections
A study conducted by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found that sedentary behavior increased insulin resistance, a known factor for developing diabetes.
Another study, published in the journal Metabolism, showed that insulin resistance develops with extended physical inactivity and after only three days of complete bed rest.
Together with other lifestyle factors such as diet, cigarette smoking, and stress levels, sedentary behavior alters the metabolism and increases the risk for:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Muscle Weakness
- Mental Health Problems
- Sleep Problems
Sedentary and Cardiovascular Disease
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease includes:
- Heart Disease
- Heart Failure
- Heart Attack
- Heart Valve Problems
Many of the problems associated with cardiovascular disease are the result of atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol plaque forms inside blood vessels.
Pieces of plaque can form clots, which can break off and travel to the heart, brain, and lungs. Arteriosclerosis is the thickening and hardening of the blood vessels, resulting in restricted blood flow to vital organs.
According to WHO, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, accounting for almost 18 million deaths each year.
In addition to the metabolic changes of increasing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, sedentary behavior also decreases HDL or good cholesterol levels. Studies published in the journals Sports Medicine and Applied Physiology report that even a single moderate length session of exercise increases HDL levels.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that cholesterol-lowering medications’ effectiveness in reducing cardiovascular disease signifies the damage abnormal cholesterol levels can cause.
Heart failure is often caused by stiffening of the left ventricle or chamber of the heart and hardening of the arteries. While some stiffening and hardening occur naturally with age, a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states that lifelong exercise four to five times a week prevents age-related artery damage.
A study of rodents published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews found that physical activity improves the body’s calcium management. This mineral can build up in artery walls and cause hardening.
A separate study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that exercise increases C-reactive protein levels, an indication of inflammation. Inflammation can cause thickening of the heart, which reduces its function.
With heart failure, the heart has become so stiff and enlarged and the arteries so thick and narrow that the heart muscle can no longer pump blood effectively.
According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of heart failure include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Edema (swelling) in the Legs and Feet
- Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat
- Difficulty Exercising
When the heart can’t pump effectively, fluid can build up in the lungs, leading to shortness of breath. Fluid can also build up in the legs and feet, causing swelling known as edema. Because the heart isn’t pumping oxygen and nutrients effectively, you may feel extremely tired or weak. The heart may try to compensate by beating faster or beat irregularly if it can’t keep up an increased rhythm.
Because of these symptoms, exercise becomes more difficult, and this difficulty can extend to issues with general movement and daily function. Getting dressed, walking around the house, and even talking for extended periods can become more difficult.
People with heart failure often have a cough that may be tinged red. As fluid builds up in the lungs, blood escapes through damaged tissue and mixes with the mucus produced by a cough.
A cough is the body’s natural reaction to having fluid and mucus blocking the passageway of air. Coughing helps move mucus out of the air passages to improve breathing.
A heart attack or ischemic stroke is the result of clots from plaque inside the arteries. When a clot blocks blood flow to the heart or brain, it reduces blood flow and oxygen to the affected organ. Even with timely treatment, a heart attack or stroke can cause long-term damage, including:
- Damage to the Heart Muscle
- Kidney Disease
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
- Difficulty Speaking
- Reduced Physical Abilities
- Weakness or Paralysis
- Difficulty Gripping or Holding Objects
- Reduced or Slow Ability to Communicate
Arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or irregularly. Cardiovascular disease can cause arrhythmias due to ineffective blood flow, heart overload, and heart muscle damage.
Hardening of the heart muscle can also cause the interior valves to misfunction, causing arrhythmias and other valve problems. The heart has four valves which direct blood flow through the heart itself, to and from the lungs, and to and from the body.
Heart valve problems can disrupt the flow and cause symptoms similar to heart disease.
In a study meta-analysis published in Diabetologia, researchers concluded that the link between sedentary behavior and diabetes was even more substantial than the link between sedentary behavior and cardiovascular disease.
Along with this study, other studies in Diabetologia, Diabetes Care, and PLoS One indicated that for people with a hereditary risk factor for diabetes, sedentary behavior is a risk factor for the severity of the disease. This includes elevated 2 hr glucose (38), TG (38,39), fasting insulin (40), IL-6 (41), clustered metabolic risk score (39), and lower HDL-C (38).
This includes metabolic changes in:
- Elevated 2-hour glucose
- Elevated Triglycerides
- Fasting Insulin
- Clustered Metabolic Score
- Lower HDL
All these markers help predict the severity of diabetes. People with severe diabetes often have a more difficult time managing their condition, despite adhering to their treatment regimen.
A study published in the Diabetes Metabolism journal concluded that the total sedentary time versus total activity time each day, regardless of activity level, was the key to abnormal insulin sensitivity.
In a study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine, researchers found a significant link between the development of insulin resistance and vascular dysfunction in sedentary study participants.
The study divided the participants into two groups. The first group maintained regular physical activity for five days while the second group experienced sedentary bed rest for five days. Researchers then examined both groups’ blood and vascular ultrasounds from both day one and day five of the study.
In the second, sedentary group, changes were seen in:
- Brachial Artery Diameter
- LDL Cholesterol
- Blood Pressure
- Fasting Insulin
- Glucose Levels
- Homeostatic Model Assessment (HOMA)
Similar to cardiovascular studies related to sedentary disease, the researchers found that bed rest decreased the width (diameter) of the brachial artery and increased LDL and triglyceride levels and elevated blood pressure.
Sedentary disease is characterized by thickening and hardening of the arteries and abnormal cholesterol levels. Researchers also found that bed rest increased fasting insulin and glucose levels.
The HOMA, a method of assessing b-cell function and insulin resistance, also showed abnormal changes in the best rest group.
The researchers concluded that the same metabolic changes that cause sedentary behavior to result in cardiovascular disease also result in insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes.
Added to these findings, studies in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology found that vascular dysfunction that decreased flow through the blood vessels increased the number of free radicals circulating in the body.
Free radicals are believed to induce and increase age-related damage to the body’s cells, organs, and functions. Free radicals can damage the cells that produce insulin, leading to diabetes.
In a study conducted by researchers in New York, the Czech Republic, and Israel, insulin resistance was a strong predictor of developing diabetes. Insulin resistance refers to high insulin levels’ abnormality when low glucose or blood sugar levels are present.
In insulin resistance, the body produces additional insulin to counteract elevated glucose levels, but the body can also not use much of the insulin it produces. Over time, the body can no longer produce enough insulin to meet demand, and additional insulin is required.
People with diabetes inject themselves with insulin throughout the day to counteract the glucose in the foods they eat.
While sedentary behavior is a risk for diabetes, diabetes also increases the risk of sedentary behavior. The symptoms of diabetes and its effects on function and movement can make it difficult for people with diabetes to exercise.
- Increased Thirst
- Increased Hunger
- Increased Urination
- Blurry Vision
- Weight Loss
- Increased Infections
- Slow Wound Healing
- Rapid breathing
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Stomach Pain
- Flushed Complexion
- Fruity Breath
Low Blood Sugar
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Slurred Speech or Clumsiness
- Loss of Consciousness
- Kidney Disease
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Blood Vessel Damage
- Dental Issues
- Skin Issues
The initial symptoms of diabetes are related to the imbalance of glucose and insulin in the body and its effect on body systems and functions. Many of the initial symptoms of diabetes are vague and may be thought to be caused by other issues. Yearly health checks and blood work can help identify insulin resistance and diabetes, allowing a person to make lifestyle changes to minimize the disease.
Ketoacidosis is considered a medical emergency that occurs when a person’s glucose level is extremely elevated. Low blood sugar levels occur when too much insulin is injected in relation to the amount of food eaten.
Early symptoms of low blood sugar can usually be treated by eating something easily digestible and high in sugar. If left untreated, low blood sugar can lead to unconsciousness and death.
Many people with diabetes find it difficult to control their blood sugar levels, even with injecting insulin. Prolonged, moderate-to-high blood sugar levels can lead to other conditions that affect overall health and functioning. Because people with diabetes also have cardiovascular problems, poor blood flow to the kidneys can lead to kidney disease and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Diabetic retinopathy, also related to blood vessel damage, can cause blindness. Diabetic neuropathy results from nerve damage and, together with blood vessel damage, can lead to poor circulation and result in amputation of fingers, toes, and limbs.
Dental issues associated with diabetes include:
- Dry Mouth
- Higher Risk of Cavities
- Impaired Taste
Diabetes may cause a decrease in saliva, making your mouth feel dry and increasing the risk of cavities and gingivitis. The lack of saliva can also affect the taste of many foods.
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are more prone to skin issues, although many common skin issues can affect anyone.
People with diabetes may suffer from frequent:
- Bacterial Infections
- Fungal Infections
- Diabetic Dermopathy
- Acanthosis Nigricans
- Disseminated Granuloma Annulare
Itchy skin can be caused by dry skin, bacterial infections, or poor blood circulation. People with diabetes often experienced an increased number of bacterial and fungal infections.
Diabetic Dermopathy is a condition that mimics age spots, especially on the legs. Acanthosis Nigricans is a condition where spots, from tan to dark brown in color, appear on the skin.
They usually occur in people who are overweight. Disseminated Granuloma Annulare are arc or ring-shaped rashes that appear on the skin, often on the arms or legs.
Sedentary Disease And Muscle Weakness
Scientists have identified muscle weakness as a result of sedentary behavior. As anyone who exercises regularly knows, muscles get stronger the more you use them. Scientists are still trying to determine the exact reason sedentary behavior causes muscle weakness, though.
Researchers are looking at telomeres, protective regions of repetitive DNA, and the ends of chromosomes that help maintain genetic stability. Telomeres erode and shorten due to stress and inflammation and may be a cause of age-related diseases.
Studies in the American Journal of Epidemiology and Experimental Gerontology report a link between physical activity and telomere length. Scientists believe that sedentary behavior might contribute to telomere shortening and the development of disease.
Bed rest studies in the Journal of Applied Physiology and a clinical trial conducted in Oxford, England, showed that sedentary behavior decreased muscle strength.
While more research is needed to determine how physical activity improves muscle strength precisely, scientists believe that sedentary behavior is a significant cause of muscle weakness.
Sedentary Disease and Obesity
Researchers have found that sedentary behavior is a risk factor for obesity. Studies in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and PLoS One support these findings. Doctors use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine if a person is obese. The BMI chart uses a person’s height and weight to determine their BMI score.
According to the CDC, BMI scores are divided as follows:
- Below 18.5 Underweight
- 18.5 to <25 Normal
- 25.0 to <30 Overweight
- 30.0 or above Obese
Obese is further divided as:
- Class 1: BMI of 30 to < 35
- Class 2: BMI of 35 to < 40
- Class 3: BMI of 40 or above
A person with a BMI score of 40 or above may be referred to as extremely, severely, or morbidly obese.
Obesity Risk Factors For Other Conditions
Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic medical diseases and conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Elevated LDL cholesterol
- Decreased HDL cholesterol
- Elevated triglycerides
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea
- Breathing problems
- Difficulty with physical functioning
Sedentary Disease And Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes the body to lose bone, fail to make enough replacement bone or both. Your body continually rebuilds and repairs bone tissue over time. Osteoporosis disrupts the routine repair and replacement process, leaving bones brittle and weak. Osteoporosis often affects older people as their bones age.
A study in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found frequent interruptions in sedentary behavior improved bone health in menopausal women. However, sedentary behavior can affect bone health in younger people, too.
A BMC Public Health study found that sedentary behavior negatively affected overall bone mineral content in teenage boys.
In teenage girls, the study found sedentary behavior negatively affected bone mineral content, specifically in the femur bone head.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, as you exercise, your body increases bone density to account for the additional stress placed on the bones.
Doctors recommend weight-bearing exercises to work your bones against gravity. Working against gravity increases stress on the bones and builds bone density.
Weight-Bearing Exercises Include
Brisk walking and hiking
- Jumping rope
- Stair climbing
Doctors also recommend strength-training exercises because they not only increase muscle strength, but they also improve bone density.
Strength-Training Exercises Include
- Weight machines
- Free weights
- Push-ups and other exercises that use your own body weight
Sedentary Disease And Mental Health Problems
Meditation, which involves the sedentary activity of sitting still and focusing on clearing one’s mind, is not the same as a passive, sedentary behavior like watching television.
In a study in Translational Psychiatry, researchers found an overall correlation between sedentary behavior and depression. But when the researchers divided the sedentary behavior between active, like meditation or working on a computer, and passive, like watching television, the correlation is distinct for the passive, sedentary behavior.
Additional studies by the Mayo Clinic and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders support these findings. The risks for and causes of depression, like many other illnesses, from multiple sources. But research has shown passive, sedentary behavior to be connected to depression.
Anxiety and sedentary behavior are also linked. In a controlled study conducted by the University of Mississippi, one week of sedentary behavior increased anxiety levels in college-age students.
A cross-sectional study in Preventative Medicine found that higher levels of sedentary behavior increased anxiety symptoms over time.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
- Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States
- Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15 to 44.
- Almost one million people globally commit suicide each year.
- Nearly 50% of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Sedentary Disease And Sleep Problems
A study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that sedentary behavior was a risk factor for insomnia and sleep disturbances.
Another study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health correlated sleep problem indicators with sedentary behavior levels.
The sleep problems were:
- Sleep Duration
- Bad Sleep Quality
- Insufficient Sleep
- Breathing Stops
- Sleep Latency
- Restless Sleep
- Pain Interfering with Sleep
- Sleep Problems Due to a Traumatic Event
The study participants who were sedentary more than eight hours a day reported long and short sleep, snoring, gasping, breathing stops, and restless sleep. This group reported the most sleep problems. Researchers concluded that sedentary behavior disturbed sleep and contributed to overly long and extremely short sleep time problems.
A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that a lack of sleep may also increase sedentary behavior. A person without sufficient sleep may feel tired and not have the energy to engage in movement behaviors.
In data gathered by the CDC, researchers found that people who slept less than seven hours a night were more likely to report chronic health conditions versus people who slept seven hours or more a night.
The most-reported chronic conditions included:
- Heart Attack
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Chronic Kidney Disease
Sedentary Disease And Falls
In a metanalysis in the European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, researchers concluded that regular physical activity significantly reduced falls in people 60 years of age and older, especially falls that resulted in injuries.
The metanalysis also found that sedentary behavior created a risk factor similar to medications. For the elderly, the use of multiple medications and their side effects is a known risk factor for falls.
Researchers found that elderly people with musculoskeletal pain were more sedentary than those without pain in a study in Pain Medicine. The average increase in sitting time was 3.5 hours a day. The fear of falling made those with pain more sedentary, as they chose to sit or lay down rather than performing activities that might lead to a fall.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons found that balance training and tai chi, both active behaviors, decrease falls by 47% and reduce the risk of hip fractures by approximately 25%.
The National Council on Aging reports these fall statistics:
- 1 in 4 Americans age 65 and older fall every year.
- Falls result in over 2.8 million emergency room visits for injuries each year.
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury in older adults.
- An older adult is treated in the ER for a fall every 11 seconds.
- 1 elderly person dies each 19 minutes as a result of a fall.
- In 2015, the cost of fall injuries was $50 billion.
Don’t Let Sedentary Disease Happen to You
According to a study published in Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism, movement occurs along a continuum.
The continuum model is based on METs used and includes all the stages of sedentary and movement behavior. The model describes the continuum of movement as:
SLEEP SEDENTARY BEHAVIOR LIGHT ACTIVITY MODERATE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY INTENSE EXERCISE
Based on studies in the journals Obesity, Circulation, Diabetes Care, and the New England Journal of Medicine, physical activity not only lowers the risk factors for a sedentary disease like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but it also reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease itself.
And the good news is that you don’t need to do only intensive exercise is get the benefit of movement. Based on these studies, researchers found that light physical activity for 75 minutes a week can reduce cardiovascular disease risk by 14%.
Ways To Get Moving
Here are some ways you can get moving with light, moderate, and vigorous exercise.
1| Light Activity
- Take a stroll or walk around the block
- Dance to your favorite song
- Play catch with your dog
- Dust a room in your house
- Remember – sitting for longer than 30 minutes increases your risk for sedentary disease. Get up, walk to the window, and look outside, get yourself a glass of water, or walk up and down one flight of stairs.
2| Moderate Activity
- Jump on a trampoline
- Ballroom or line dancing
- Paddle boating
- Rake the lawn
- Put groceries away
- Hand wash the car
3| Vigorous Activity
- Calisthenics like push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks
- Cross country skiing
- Playing tag with children
- Swimming laps
Living An Active Lifestyle And Moving Your Body Is One Of The Best Ways To Keep Yourself Healthy
If the idea of joining a gym or doing hours of cardio sounds unappealing, don’t worry. There are lots of ways to move your body and reap the benefits of regular exercise that don’t involve tons of repetitive and tedious cardio workouts.
Living a sedentary lifestyle with little active movement is a danger to your health. By adding some extra movement and exercise into your day, you can enjoy all the wonderful benefits of being more active.
- Find an outdoors activity you really, truly enjoy.
People who live active lifestyles aren’t just the people you see running on the treadmills in your local gyms. You can live an active lifestyle by participating in an outdoor activity you really enjoy.
Getting outside is one of the easiest ways to motivate yourself to move more when you’re doing something you honestly enjoy.
Some examples of outdoor activities you can try include gardening, exploring your local parks, rock climbing, canoeing and kayaking, and mountain climbing, just to name a few. It’s important to select an outdoor activity you really enjoy; when you’re having fun and moving your body at the same time, you’re more likely to regularly participate in this type of activity.
- Spend more time actually playing with your kids.
If you have children of your own or spend time with kids (for example, maybe you’re a teacher or a babysitter), you know how active they are when they’re playing!
Try getting more involved in their play time. Not only will you spend more time interacting and enjoying time with your children, but you also get a lot of great activity and movement from joining in on their fun.
You can turn outdoor play time with your kids into a regular part of your schedule. For example, you can establish a half hour of playtime outdoors before going inside each evening to eat dinner.
As an added bonus, your kids will have a lot more fun with you when you’re involved in their games instead of relaxing on a patio chair and browsing your phone. Everybody wins when they’re all having a good time moving their bodies!
- Check out some local sports leagues (or start one yourself).
Remember the days of kickball, soccer, dodgeball, and ultimate frisbee? Those don’t have to remain distant memories of the past. If playing a sport or outdoor game is the type of movement you really enjoy, consider finding ways to bring it into your regular routine. One of these ways is finding a local sports league or establishing your own.
browse your community Facebook pages bulletin boards and other messaging sites people in your area used to communicate and advertise. You will likely find a few amateur sports leagues looking for new players.
If you can’t find one or don’t see any that are specifically interesting to you, consider advertising to start your own. Generally you can buy basic equipment for a low rate and establish regular meeting times to play with other interested participants. Other players may be able to bring equipment they already own, lowering the price of establishing your own group.
As an added bonus, not only will you get outside and start being more active doing an activity you actually like, you will also make some new friends in the process.
4. Modify some of the activities you already do each day to be more active.
A simple way to add some extra activity and movement to your day is to modify your already existing habits and routines. When you’re being creative, you can always find a way to make any of your regular daily activities a little more active.
For example, if you like to park close to the front door at work, consider parking your car closer to the back of the lot. This will increase the number of steps you have to take while entering and exiting the building each day. If you normally take the elevator to your office, consider taking the stairs instead.
While these types of changes seem really small, they quickly add up in benefits. Anything you can do to be a little more active each day is always good for your health and well-being.
A study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found a broad range of factors that influence peoples’ motivation to exercise.
The CDC offers these tips to break through motivation barriers and get moving:
Lack of Time
- Designate time to exercise in your calendar
- Add steps by parking farther away from the door or walking to the local store or coffee shop
- Plan movement activities when getting together with friends
- Tell your friends and family about your movement plan and ask for their support
- Invite a friend to walk with you
- Make new friends by joining an exercise class
Lack Of Energy
- Plan to exercise at the time of day when you feel your best
- Start small and watch your energy level increase
- Give yourself a break, then continue moving
Fear Of Injury
- Learn how to warm up and cool down properly
- Talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program
- Chose activities that are simple and feel safe
Lack Of Skill Or Endurance
- Start with easy activities and build to harder ones as your confidence grows
- Take a class or watch videos to learn more
- Remember that light intensity movement can be done a few minutes at a time
A Leading Cause of Death and Disability: Don’t Let This Happen To You
Sedentary behavior is a risk factor for multiple chronic medical conditions and diseases.
A lack of movement causes changes in how the body functions.
Scientists have determined that sedentary behavior disrupts the body’s metabolism and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
Many of the health conditions that can result from sedentary behavior also contribute to developing additional health problems.
- For example, sedentary behavior contributes to obesity, which in turn is a risk factor for diabetes.
- Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are often linked, and sedentary behavior is a risk factor for both diseases.
- Sleep problems from sedentary behavior can cause additional sedentary behavior, leading to any of the other risks.
- Sedentary behavior can create a spiral of dysfunction by causing health problems that can lead to further health issues.
While researchers and doctors have previously promoted active exercise, newer research points to the need for exercise and general movement.
Even light-intensity activities help protect your body from sedentary disease. Scientists now know that the longer you sit, the greater your risk for health problems.
Regular movement and active exercise both play a role in preventing the health problems associated with sedentary disease.
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