The progress of technology is on an exponential upward curve, as is our dependence on it. As the tech industry continues to weave its way into our daily lives, health experts and watchers are growing increasingly alarmed at how associated health risks are taking a similar exponential path of progression.
Today, with the mobile industry gaining ground at an explosive rate, every time you hear, “Well, now, there’s an app for that!”, it’s likely removed yet another chance for people to budge from their chairs.
What Does a Sedentary Lifestyle Mean for Your Health?
The human body, unfortunately, is not designed for prolonged periods of physical inactivity. It is evolutionarily designed to be upright, and when you spend protracted periods on your rump, you’re going against that grain:
Reduced movement causes the fat-burning enzymes in your body – those that are responsible for breaking down triglycerides – to gradually stop functioning, resulting in clogged arteries and hypertension.
Your body will begin to rely less on its blood sugar as an energy conserve, and – well, we know where this is going. For every two hours that you spend without any physical activity, you add a 7% chance of getting diabetes, high cholesterol and heart-disease.
Prolonged sedentary activity causes a buildup of collagen around the tendons and ligaments that support your spine. From there it’s a hop and skip to chronic back issues and spinal disk damage.
Your legs will also start taking the brunt of your sitting-disease: slowed blood circulation which causes a fluid retention in your legs. This is a precursor to high-risk disorders like varicose veins and deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a formation of blood clots in the veins.
The sea-horse-shaped memory center of your brain – the hippocampus – relies on a steady supply of blood and neuro chemicals to do its job. Reduced circulation can, therefore, result in memory loss and increased risk of psychological and neurological disorders.
Beating the Sedentary Lifestyle:
Get up and get moving. Leave your desk for short periods of time every hour – there’s nothing that necessitates being glued to your screen for so long.
A 30-minute gym session every day may not be nearly enough to counter the dangers of remaining seated for more than 6-7 hours on end. Remember that the bottom-line to a healthy lifestyle is a reduction in your sitting time.
There’s a NEAT alternative for improved fitness levels. NEAT, also known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, involves simple non-strenuous physical activity that can get the blood moving in your body, such as:
- Short stretching exercises near your office desk
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walking around when you’re on the phone
- Parking your car away from your building to give yourself an extra walking distance
- Investing in a standing desk option, and switching between the two as often as you can
Eat healthy. According to the USDA, women with sedentary lifestyles ideally need up to 1,600 calories a day. A sample meal plan for 1,600 calories, as recommended by the USDA, can be found here. Eating healthy also means eating consciously. Cravings are a message your body sends you to express a need. Learn what it means and you will learn to resist.
Reduce your dependence on technology – wherever you can and you will realize you can exercise without thinking about it.
- Visiting your friend’s place rather than sending her a message on Twitter or Facebook
- An actual, physical shopping spree instead of purchasing things online
- Actually doing the dishes by hand, instead of relegating it to your dishwasher
The risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle have gained a significant relevance in today’s world, and the best way to avoid falling into its trap is to seek an active means to resist becoming a couch-slouch. And the best place to start? Get off your chair!
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