Leading an inactive lifestyle becomes a habit as we age. As we grow older and settle down in life with comfortable jobs, we also get habituated to how we are changing physically. However, it is not a pleasant feeling when you are no longer fitting into your shirts or dresses or when you cannot bend to tie your shoelaces. Not having a regular physical activity in our daily routine affects us both physically and mentally. According to Digit Insurance, 61% of hospitalizations is caused due to an inactive lifestyle.
According to the WHO, 60 to 85% of people in the world—from both developed and developing countries—lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the more serious yet insufficiently addressed public health problems of our time. (Source)
Lack of exercise or any type of physical activity not only causes high blood pressure, cardiac arrests and diabetes but also leads to elevated levels of stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression and, in some cases, even early death. It also leads to loss of focus, lack of attention and concentration along with decreased levels of energy and feeling of lethargy. Incidentally, women and older adults are more prone to lead an inactive lifestyle compared to men.
3 Ways your Inactive Lifestyle is Making you Sick
Well, sitting or being a couch potato makes you gain weight and that is no secret. Obesity is a leading disease among inactive people. And, it can lead to worse health problems including cardiac diseases, knee problems, diabetes, etc.
Having a good health insurance is not the only solution. Take regular breaks when you have to sit for longer periods of time whether for your job or during travel. Preferably, opt for standing desks. The activity of standing burns about 50 calories an hour which adds remarkably over the course of weeks and months.
Muscles and Bones are affected
Did you know our body is constantly rebuilding the bones and muscles. When we do not exercise on a daily basis, bone density decreases and bones become weaker and more prone to breakage.
Similarly, body thinks we do not need the muscles we do not use regularly and hence breaks it down to conserve energy ( this process if called muscle atrophy). Usually, muscle atrophy is caused due to age and poor nutrition but inactive lifestyle is becoming a leading cause for it now.
Sitting for extended periods of time also affects the neck and spine by stressing the muscles and discs in the spinal cord. This inturn affects the hip muscles and reduces blood flow to buttock muscles which supports the spine.
Also while sitting, you may not be able to maintain correct posture which in turn causes discs and muscles to bulge and stretch beyond their limit. Lack of exercise decreases the synovial fluid which lubricates the joints to provide flexibility and helps them to move smoothly.
Mental Health is drastically affected
Some studies done on rats have shown changes in their brain cells and structure due to the lack of physical activity. While I am not equating rats to humans, we can easily agree on the fact that lack of exercise does cause a loss of focus and lack of ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.
The increased blood circulation due to exercise stimulates the hypothalamus and improves our mood and physiological reaction to stress by producing endorphins, the happy hormones, which reduces emotional stress.
Overall, as we see, leading an inactive lifestyle deteriorates the quality of our life. It is recommended for an average healthy adult to walk 10,000 steps a day and include at least 150 minutes of physical activity in a week. Sedentary lifestyle is a disease which is considered to be worse than smoking and major lifestyle change is necessary to beat this disease. The sooner we start inculcating these changes in our life, the better will be our quality of life.
Till then, Swathy.