September 14, 2010

Health Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle

We all know that we should exercise a lot and follow a proper diet program to keep ourselves healthy. But, to a lot of us it is like grandma's advice - we listen to it and then we forget it and go back to our old ways. We prefer our sedentary lifestyles because it doesn't compel us to do a lot of things. We spend way too much time in front of the telly and if that was not enough, we accompany it with a lot of junk food.

Modern technology has made our lives very easy. We don't have to travel too much to meet a person; we just call them. We don't have to work too hard; the computers/machines just do it for us. We don't even have to make our own food; we just order it or eat ready-to-eat processed food. It is not only a problem in adults even kids become victim of this problem.

What is sedentary lifestyle?

A sedentary lifestyle is a way of living in which a person does not engage in sufficient physical activity for what is generally considered healthy living. It is marked by prolonged period of sitting, whether it is around the TV or the computer screen or anything else. People living a sedentary lifestyle overlook physical activity and are involved in activities that rarely require any amount of physical stress. According to a new study, following a sedentary lifestyle can be more dangerous for your health than smoking.

How does a sedentary lifestyle affects you?

There is a lot of research conducted on the effects of sedentary lifestyle on an individual across the globe. The findings of these researches can be mentioned as follows:

1.Obesity: The major effect of a sedentary lifestyle can be seen on the size of your trousers. Because you are ingesting a lot of calories and not really burning any of them, these calories are deposited in your body as excess fat. And this is just the beginning of the problems.

2.Increased risk of heart diseases: Your heart must get a proper supply of blood from the blood vessels (coronary arteries) in order to keep functioning efficiently. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can slow the blood circulation and your blood vessels can get stiff and blocked. In serious cases, this can lead to arteriosclerosis and cardiac arrest. According to a study, lack of physical activity in your middle age can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by 52 percent in men and 28 percent in women.

3.Increased risk of diabetes: Regular exercise helps in regulating the blood glucose levels. According to study conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center, intensive exercise can significantly improve the body's ability to control blood sugar levels. The lack of exercise results in increased blood sugar levels putting excess stress on your pancreas (which secretes the hormone Insulin). This increases your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

4.Increased risk of cancer: Decreased activity increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and other types of malignant tumors. According to a study carried out by the University of Hong Kong, physical inactivity can increase the risk of dying from cancer by 45 percent in men and 28 percent in women.

5.Increased risk of osteoporosis: The prolonged inactivity causes your bones to lose their strength as they are no longer challenged to support your body structure. Arthritis and Osteoporosis, which cause the bones to become brittle and weak, can be brought on through an inactive lifestyle.

6.Muscles loose their tone: Your muscles are like car batteries. They need to be run on a regular basis to make sure that the car is working. The more sedentary lifestyle you have the lesser muscles you are likely to posses. The less muscles you posses the lesser is your ability to carry out your day-to-day tasks.

7.Being a couch potato also has a serious effect on your posture and spine health. Sitting all day can shorten and tighten your hip flexors and hamstrings, while making the muscles that support your spine to become weak and stiff.

8.Sleeping difficulties: A sedentary lifestyle doesn't put any physical pressure on the body. Thus the body doesn't feel like taking a rest often which leads to sleeping difficulties and in severe cases can also lead to insomnia.

9.Headaches: Researchers in Norway found that that people who did not exercise were 14 percent more likely to develop non-migraine headaches than those who did exercise.

Faster aging process: Telomeres are repeat sequences of DNA that sit on the ends of chromosomes, protecting them from damage. As we get older, the telomeres get shorter, and their deterioration is associated with the physical signs of middle and old age. A research study found that in inactive people the telomeres shortened more quickly than in active people. The faster is the rate of shortening, the faster is your ageing process. The faster is your ageing process, the higher is the mortality rate. Researchers also found that stress can also have an impact on telomere length, and exercising regularly can make an indirect contribution as it tends to reduce stress levels.

Of course if you have been following a sedentary lifestyle for ages then suddenly getting back to exercise can seem a bit of a daunting task. But if you gradually add low intensity activities like washing your clothes, ironing, walking the dog etc. to your lifestyle and then add high intensity activities like running, cycling etc. you may be well on your way to an active and a healthy lifestyle.


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