Being sedentary means that you spend the majority of your time sitting or lying down, and you don’t spend any time exercising, or very little time exercising. Unfortunately in today’s world— especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic— more and more jobs require its workers to sit for long periods of time, and working 8 to 12 or more hours a day leaves hardly any time for exercise. This coupled with poor eating habits (which is usually eating/snacking on foods that are convenient) makes living an inactive lifestyle and dangerous combination.
Here are 4 things that can happen to your body if you aren’t active enough.
When you’re inactive, your body can’t burn as many calories as it could when you’re active. Even if you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet every day, you’re still susceptible to weight gain because inactivity can negatively affect your metabolism, which is how your body breaks down fat and sugar.
Weight gain can lead to obesity, which causes a host of other physical health issues and increases your risk of premature death. Conditions related to weight gain include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Your physical health isn’t always the only thing affected by a sedentary lifestyle. When we’re physically active, our brains release those feel-good hormones making us feel happy and calm. Without physical activity to stimulate the production of these hormones, we’re more at risk of developing anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
Exercising also reduces the number of stress hormones our bodies produce, so being sedentary can stress you out more than you realize. Other hormones created by the body can also be thrown out of balance when you’re not being active enough, which can cause other physical health problems.
An inactive lifestyle means that you’re not using your muscles as much as you should, so you may lose a lot of your muscle strength. Your bones can also become weaker too due to lack of exercise. When bones get weaker, they lose some of their important minerals which can lead to osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and other bone disorders.
Inflammation, which is characterized by redness, swelling, heat, and/or pain, can also be another issue that comes with being sedentary. Weak bones and muscles can make it harder to get around, making those who are already sedentary less likely to start becoming more active.
Bedsores occur when blood isn’t flowing properly to the skin because there’s constant pressure on that part of the skin, leaving it damaged. Bedsores don’t only occur on people who are bedridden; they can also occur when sitting in a chair for extended periods of time, or on those who are wheelchair-bound.
The most common causes of bedsores probably come from not getting proper care, but can also happen if you’re extremely sedentary and spend the majority of your time in one place. As they progress, bedsores damage more layers of the skin, and the risk of infection, sepsis, and death increases.
There are many ways for people of any age to start becoming more active. Certain hobbies, such as gardening and fishing are great ways to start exercising without feeling intimidated by it. Many people are too afraid to start working out at the gym, but the good news is that if you’ve never worked out before or if it’s been a while, you should start off with something low-impact.
For example, going for a walk in the park, around your neighborhood, or even around your home is a good place to start. Also, make sure that you’re stretching before any increased level of physical activity to avoid the possibility of an injury.