Do you find time to exercise or engage in physical activity on a regular basis? For many Americans, daily physical activity hasn’t been a priority. This has been especially true in recent years with lockdowns and a shift to digital work and entertainment. With the ever-present technology in today’s world, Americans are sitting more than ever.
Perhaps you sit at a desk all day for work. Or you just love to sit on the couch a lot to watch TV or play video games. Whatever the case, if you live a sedentary life, it can have adverse effects on your health.
What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle?
A sedentary lifestyle is when you have an inactive lifestyle. People who sit a lot and don’t exercise are considered inactive. These days, more and more activities allow us to sit. Looking at our phones, watching TV, commuting to and from work and other daily activities are increasingly accommodating a “seated” lifestyle. Many Americans also prefer to sit during their leisure time.
Prevalence of Inactivity in the US
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about 25% of American adults are considered inactive. Interestingly, the CDC’s study reflects regional differences in reported physical activity. The southern part of the US is the most inactive, with 27.5% prevalence of inactivity, followed by the Midwest (25.2%), Northeast (24.7%) and the West (21%). The most active states in the US are Colorado, Utah, Washington and Vermont. On the contrary, the states with highest inactivity rates are West Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico.
How Can an Inactive Lifestyle Affect Your Health?
The CDC warns that the health repercussions of not getting enough physical activity can be severe. By living an inactive lifestyle, you may increase your risk for developing chronic disease. You also have an increased risk for developing:
- Heart disease and heart-related health issues (i.e., heart attack)
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancer
- Depression and anxiety
- Shorter lifespan
How Can an Inactive Lifestyle Affect Your Body?
If you don’t get adequate physical activity, it will be apparent in your physical appearance as well. Here are some physical consequences of an inactive lifestyle:
- Weight gain
- Back pain
- Increased inflammation
- Poor blood circulation
- Weaker bones and lower mineral content
- Slower metabolism
- Hormonal imbalance
- Weakened immune system leading to more frequent illness
How Can I Incorporate More Activity Into My Life?
The good news is that anyone can easily start an exercise regimen. However, if you are mostly inactive, it’s best to ease into it. Then, you can gradually add more frequent and higher intensity exercise. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Any amount of physical activity is better than none. The important thing is to enjoy it and find the type of exercise that suits your physical abilities, age, and health circumstances.
Getting More Active at Home
Doing housework can actually burn a lot of calories. Here are some tips to get moving more around the house:
- Clean or do yard work. Try playing some music to make it more enjoyable, or challenge yourself to do chores at a more vigorous pace.
- Stretch while you watch your latest Netflix binge
- Look for workout videos on YouTube
- Go for a walk outside
- Get some practical and lightweight exercise equipment for your home like a yoga mat, resistance bands, a foam roller, and ankle weights.
Incorporating More Physical Activity at Work
Less than 20% of Americans have a job that requires physical activity. Consequently, many of us may find it challenging to find ways to get activity during our busy work days.
- If your job requires you to work in front of a computer all day, consider investing in a standing desk
- If a standing desk feels like too big of a commitment, consider:
- Standing for phone calls
- Setting a reminder to get up and move at least once every hour
- Getting an apple watch or a fitbit to track your step count
- Taking the stairs
- Use part of your lunch break to walk around your building or outside if you can
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