The Real Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

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couch-potatoWe all know we need to move and if you’re like many of us, moving more may be on your mind as you begin this New Year.

Sometimes we need a little jumpstart, an incentive to get up and get going. Here are a few facts about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle that may just give you what you need to get moving:

Increased risk of colon and breast cancer: One study showed a 40% decrease in cancer mortality in persons who were physically active compared to those who were inactive.

An increase in insulin resistance: A recent study reported that for every 2 hours per day that a person watched TV, the risk of type 2 diabetes increased 14%.

Decreased brain health: One study reported that there was a 50% reduction in the risk of dementia in older persons who maintained regular bouts of physical activity.

Increased risk of heart attacks: In the Nurses’ Health Study, women who were physically active 3 hours or more per week (half an hour daily) cut their risk of heart attack in half.

Increased risk of stroke: Data from the Aerobics Research Center in Dallas, Texas, found that physically active men lowered their risk of stroke by two-thirds. And in the Nurses’ Health Study, physically active women decreased their risk of stroke by 50% with a more active lifestyle.

Loss of lean muscle tissue: The activities of daily living are much more difficult to perform when we lose muscle mass. Loss of vital lean muscle tissue also makes it more difficult to maintain body weight.

Decrease in bone mineral content and strength: Bone loss progresses much faster in people who are physically inactive.

Depression: Physical activity is a good way to reduce mood swings and helps a person maintain a sense of emotional well being.

Weight gain: People who don’t get regular physical activity are more likely to gain excess weight.

Decreased immune function: People who get regular physical activity have a more efficient immune system, which helps ward off various disease and illnesses such as colds and the flu. (1)

Decreased lung capacity: Sitting curves your spine as you slouch, putting strain on your spinal cord and ultimately preventing your lungs from getting enough space to expand fully. With your lungs not breathing in completely, you have less oxygen being distributed throughout your body, which is exacerbated due to less circulation when you’re not moving. Less oxygen to your brain ultimately leads to lost concentration. So when you’re sitting, you’re probably focusing less than you would if you were moving around. (2)

High blood pressure: Less active and less fit people have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.

Increased risk of disease: Physically active overweight or obese people significantly reduced their risk for disease with regular physical activity. (3)

Yikes! So how will you move more? Will you stand up when you’re on the phone, take the stairs vs. the elevator, look for the furthest vs. the closest parking spot?

We’d love to know, comment and share!


Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2023