Not everyone has to work out daily in a gym or be a star athlete, but sedentary lifestyles lead to a host of medical problems.
The Sedentary Lifestyle
New technologies allow more people to work or shop from home. In addition, leisure activities involving computers, video games, texting, and other forms of increased screen time lead to moving less, having more musculoskeletal pain, and developing other health problems. A “sedentary lifestyle” is defined as having “no or irregular physical activity”. A common term is “couch potato”. There are many health risks associated with a lack of exercise. It is “one of the leading causes of preventable death” throughout the world.1
Health Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Sitting still for over 5 hours a day “may cause premature death”; however, people who exercise for at least four hours a week enjoy as many health benefits as those who “sit fewer than 4 hours per day”. The health risks of a sedentary lifestyle include diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, deep vein thrombosis, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, kidney stones, lipid disorders, and spinal disc herniation. Having chronic low back pain is also caused by a lack of physical activity.2 It has been said that “sitting to the spine is like sugar to the teeth”. This is not just a problem with leisure—desk jobs and commutes can also contribute to these health risks.3
Overcoming Risk Factors
In order to prevent too much weight gain, people may want to consider eating breakfast, since it can improve concentration and lead to eating less throughout the day. If it is an option, biking or walking to work can insert exercise into a daily routine. Even using public transportation, and “getting off one or two stops earlier”, can help. When working (or engaging in screen time), it is necessary to take breaks in order to move around several times a day. Taking the stairs is another way to sneak in some activity. Water is crucial to health, and 6-8 glasses a day can maintain hydration. When possible, it is helpful to get some fresh air and ventilation. Instead of using vending machines or grabbing unhealthy snacks, a little planning ahead for a healthy meal to eat (or pack for work) can be more beneficial. Even if one doesn’t have a lot of space, it is still possible to engage in stretches throughout the day. Ergonomics are also important, such as having the computer’s monitor at eye level, having feet flat on the floor, and using a keyboard at elbow level are also ways to sit in a more healthy fashion. If joining a gym or other forms of exercise are options, it may be helpful to take care of this before heading home from work, to make it easier to accomplish these more regularly.4
Chiropractors see many patients with weight, health, and pain issues. They can suggest stretches, exercises, and ergonomic options for patients. Walking for only 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of cancer. A standing desk can contribute to weight loss. Even “fidgeting” by rocking in a chair or jiggling the legs can add movement to the day. Chiropractors can give patients many ideas on overall wellness, in additional to treatment for pain.5
Find out ways to add fitness to daily life.