Consequences of a sedentary lifestyle: Sitting is the new smoking

If you rest, you rust – what our grandparents already knew is more relevant today than ever. Lack of exercise due to too much sitting leads to numerous diseases. Do you want to keep your heart, your head and your organs on their toes and healthy? Do you want to be fit, avoid muscle loss and obesity? Get all the information about it in this article.

In this article you will learn:

  • when there is a sedentary lifestyle .
  • which exercise recommendations there are for children and adults .
  • what symptoms and consequences of too little exercise can be .
  • how to ensure sufficient exercise in everyday life .

When is there a sedentary lifestyle?

Movement is essential for your body and your psyche. Nature designed it that way, because our ancestors didn’t have an office job, freezer or pizza service. They had to hunt and forage for food to survive. Hunter and gatherer – this term is representative of movement.

All of your body functions rely on movement – from the heart to the circulatory system and the venous valves in your veins to your kidneys. This important detoxification organ is connected to your diaphragm and has three to four centimeters of freedom of movement.

When your lungs move, the diaphragm and with it your kidneys move up and down. You need movement to be able to work properly. This means that your body can cover up to a kilometer in total per day for the kidneys.

So if you don’t move enough, you’re breathing too shallowly . Never mind, you mean – I have my pizza, my sofa and my television. Wrong thought: your kidneys cleanse all of your blood every four to five minutes . If they cannot work properly, you are practically “littering” from the inside .

In Germany, people spend an average of 7.5 hours a day sitting.

But when is there a sedentary lifestyle? According to a medical newspaper and a recent study, people in Germany spend an average of around 7.5 hours on an office chair, in the car or on the couch. It can also be up to eleven hours. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week – i.e. between 20 and 45 minutes per day. According to the WHO, this number is not reached by every third man and every fourth woman worldwide. In Germany, around 50 percent of the population reach the 150-minute mark.

Exercise recommendations for children and adults

Which begs the question: How much exercise do a person need at least to stay healthy? The WHO recommendations in detail and according to age group:

  • Children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17  should be physically active for at least one hour each day. Intensity: moderate to intense. According to the WHO, on three days it is important that you work up a sweat in order to strengthen your muscles, skeleton and circulation and to prevent a sedentary lifestyle in children.
  • Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 (including those with chronic illnesses or disabilities): between 150 and 300 minutes of physical activity per week. Intensity from moderate to intense.
    • In addition, the WHO recommends balanced, moderate strength training twice or more times a week in order to target and train all muscle groups in the body.
  • The WHO recommends physical activities that focus on balance, coordination and strengthening muscle strength for people aged 65 and over. The training should take place at least three times a week.
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What are the symptoms and consequences of too little exercise?

If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you can easily tell. There are certain signs of this. Among other things , your muscles break down . If you sit too much, you will also notice this from the fact that you can no longer keep your spine straight while sitting. It loses stability due to muscle breakdown.

The result is bad posture and back pain . The back can deform into a rounded back and the intervertebral discs between the vertebrae are put under incorrect strain. Sitting for long periods without moving can cause tension in the neck and neck area. It can also cause headaches.

A lack of exercise also leads to heart problems . If it is not exercised sufficiently and regularly, the heart muscle loses its performance. You will notice this, for example, when you are quickly out of breath when climbing stairs or exercising. Your circulation, blood pressure and veins also suffer from a lack of exercise.

The valves in your veins need the movement of the calf muscles in order to transport the low-oxygen blood from your feet back up to the heart – after all, that’s around 7,000 liters every day and against gravity. If this muscle pump in the calves comes to a standstill when you sit, the flow of blood stops. Your legs are heavy and swollen .

A consequence of a lack of exercise: You are more likely to run out of breath when exercising.

Atherosclerosis – calcified and inflamed vein walls – is also favored by a lack of exercise. If you exercise too little, you are not pushing your fat metabolism sufficiently. Your blood lipid levels increase . The blood pressure and blood flow are out of balance due to the lack of exercise. Excess blood fat such as cholesterol is more easily deposited in the arterial walls. Your veins can become clogged.

Other effects of sedentary lifestyle on the gut, joints & more

Other effects of a sedentary lifestyle and long periods of sitting can be digestive problems . In fact, when you sit, your organs are compressed – depending on your body tension and the muscles you have. The stomach and intestines cannot work freely. Also, your organs need the push and pull of movement to work smoothly and for adequate blood flow. This is especially true for your intestines, which need sufficient exercise .

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If you now think that sounds like the horror cabinet of the ailments caused by a lack of exercise, then you are right. However, there is still more! Too little exercise and the resulting excess weight can make you diabetic . Without exercise, your bone density degrades and causes osteoporosis with brittle bones.

Defective and painful joints caused by osteoarthritis are also favored by a lack of exercise. Among other things, because the cartilage does not receive sufficient nutrients and the metabolic products are not transported out of the joint. In addition, without sufficient exercise you are more prone to infections and less resilient because you do not break down stress hormones in your blood enough.

All in all, a lack of exercise can have serious effects on your health – and this also affects your mental state. This starts with chronic fatigue , because the energy expenditure in your body is on the back burner and goes up to depression. The reason: The “happiness hormones” serotonin and noradrenaline are only released into the blood with sufficient exercise. In addition, your brain receives less oxygen and is not supplied with blood as well if you don’t have enough exercise.

How do I get enough exercise?

It is obvious that exercise is essential to your health. In order to prevent long-term damage from too much sitting, you should actively combat a lack of exercise . So what can you do so that you don’t fall into the “lazy trap” and instead overcome your “inner weaker self” ?

In principle, this is the easiest thing in the world: move whenever you can! It starts with walking certain routes instead of taking the bus or car. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. This is the best cardio workout in everyday life . Every activity is good for your body.

Weekly plan for regular exercise in everyday life

To avoid a sedentary lifestyle , you can create a weekly schedule . This will help you make exercise a regular part of your daily routine again. Content could be, for example:

  • Make a goal of walking at least 10,000 steps every day . You can measure this using a pedometer app with your smartphone and also have a sense of achievement
  • Set fixed times in the daily routine for exercise units and stick to them – even for walking, if you did not get 10,000 steps during the day. Movement should be a given. You also have breakfast or brush your teeth every day. Fixed times ensure that other things don’t block or prevent your movement: like your favorite series, video games, cleaning up, or shopping.
  • Enroll in a gym or work out at home. You can also do this in front of the TV with weights or using your own body with push-ups, squats and sit-ups.
  • Take your bike for certain routes, such as commuting to work or shopping . That alone ensures movement on a regular basis. If you don’t have a bike: Buy one to motivate you and get started with exercise. You will see how good it is for you.
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Regular exercise can also easily take place at home.

Of course, not everyone can organize their time freely during the day and move around – even if the times of home office make this easier for many people. But there are certain rhythms that you can use for yourself in order to have enough movement at work – especially if you spend a lot of time in front of the computer.

Tips for exercise at work

The 25/5 rule will help you with this. That means 25 minutes of sitting and five minutes of exercise. This can be walking up and down, doing a few squats, stretching yourself left and right a few times, doing some push-ups. You can do this very well in the home office at home. Just set a 25 minute timer on your phone as a reminder.

If colleagues in the office look at you strangely during your exercise program, let them look. At best, they get in – or stand with the smokers outside at the building entrance. If five minutes of break from work for a cigarette is legitimate, then five minutes for healthy exercise is even more. By the way: Instead of making a phone call or writing an email in the office, you can also visit the addressees down the hall for a short walk.

There is a good trick to push your venous valves and blood circulation in your legs, especially when you are sitting. Tiptoe your feet a few times on a regular basis. You will notice how your calf muscles tighten and get the venous pump running.

In addition, you can put your feet on your heels in the other direction while sitting. This trains the shin muscles . Even while sitting, stretch yourself regularly upwards, to the left and to the right. This activates, relaxes and stretches your back muscles.

A tip: while sitting, regularly pull your shoulders up five times and then let them fall again. Then you let them circle five times. This prevents any tension and thus headaches . Incidentally, Formula 1 racing drivers do this during pit stops and tire changes to reduce stress. After all, they can’t get out of the tight cockpit – and sometimes you can’t get away from the screen.

When starting activities such as running, it is important that you check your fitness level for yourself beforehand. Do less than too much and start slowly. That can also be the start with fast walking. If you are tense from long-term sitting , your muscles are shortened and tendons are stiff, which can lead to injuries. Warming up before the start and regular stretching can help.

Too little exercise – what to do?

In summary, more exercise means more health and a better quality of life for you. You prevent diseases, are more productive and have less stress. With exercise, you give your body what it needs to function, provide more oxygen and better blood circulation.

And best of all: You can not only extend your life with exercise, but also some friendships or relationships: you are in a better mood!

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