Sedentary Lifestyle & Health Issues

By Dr Amit Malik

Technological innovation and the transition towards more sedentary occupations and recreation, and the increasing use of personal motorized transportation are contributing to changing patterns of physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour across the world. WHO recommendation is to achieve a 15% relative reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 2030. In children and adolescents, higher amounts of sedentary behaviour are associated with poor health outcomes, increased obesity, poorer cardiometabolic health fitness, behavioural conduct and reduced sleep duration. Replacing sedentary time with physical activity of any intensity provides health benefits. Physical activity in children promotes healthy growth and development.

Why is physical activity important to avoid sedentary?

Regular physical activity is a known protective factor for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, brain stroke, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and obesity. Physical activity also has benefits for mental health, delays the onset of dementia, and contribute to the maintenance of healthy weight and general well-being. Physical activity promotes many physiological responses that caused beneficial short and long term autonomic and hemodynamic adaptation and improves cognitive health, quality of life and wellbeing. Association between regular physical exercise and reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer have been well established.  An adult should limit the amount of time spent being sedentary.

Physical activity can be undertaken as part of recreation and leisure (play, games, sports or planned exercise), transportation (wheeling, walking and cycling), work or household chores, in the context of daily occupational, educational, home and community settings.

How much time to dedicate?

It only takes thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 days per week to improve and maintain your health. Muscle strengthen activities at a moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week provide additional health benefits. You need not go to the gym to be physically active, take the stairs instead of the lift. Take breaks during the day to move around and do a simple exercise.  In order to be beneficial for your cardiorespiratory health, all activities should be performed in bouts of at least ten minutes. For healthy adults at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity which could be brisk walking, cycling, gardening, dancing or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity which could be jogging / running, fast cycling, swimming, aerobics or playing competitive sports is recommended.

old man and child gardening

Do not forget – some physical activity is better than none at all.

About the Author

Dr Amit Malik is the Associate Director & Coordinator Cardiology at Max Superspeciality Hospital, Vaishali

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