CONSEQUENCES OF A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE ON THE HUMAN BODY
A lifestyle of sedentary is linked with adverse health effects. It is reported that 1/3 of the population aged 15 or more is not engaging in sufficient physical activity around the globe, which can result in adverse health effects. Insufficient physical activity can mean working hours, vehicles, workplaces, schools, homes, and public spaces that limit the human body’s movement and muscle activity. The transition from an active lifestyle to less physical activity has raised the likelihood of developing various diseases, including hypertension, obesity, deep vein thrombosis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis (weakening of bones) as well as cancer. Skin and muscle disorders result in a higher risk of death. These diseases are linked to unhealthy lifestyles, which can be avoided.
Conceptualizing Sedentary Lifestyle
The term “Sedentary” is derived from the Latin word “Seder,” meaning “to sit” Therefore, sedentary behaviors are identified by actions that are closely linked to low energy consumption. Low energy consumption of <=1.5 metabolic equivalent tasks (MET) is considered sedentary behavior. The MET measures energy consumption during activities. Running is rated at 8 METs, while brisk walking can be measured at 3-4 METs. If an individual keeps up moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise (MVPA), the risk of getting sick is high when they engage in prolonged sedentary exercise. This idea has been called”the “Active Couch Potato” phenomenon.
Causes of Sedentary Lifestyle
The most frequent causes are prolonged TV watching or video, the use of cell phones, and increased driving, which directly correlates with improved sedentary habits. Other environmental causes include:
- Traffic congestion.
- Air pollution.
- The absence of pedestrian walkways or parks.
- A need for sports facilities.
Sedentary Lifestyle Diseases
1. Cardiovascular (CV) health risks
Numerous studies have demonstrated that a lifestyle of sedentary and inactivity levels are among the main risk factors that increase heart (CV) threat. In one study, 82% of participants reported more than 10 hours per week of driving in a car and 23 hours a week of watching television. Within 64% of the participants, an increase in cardiovascular risk was noted.
In the case of adolescents, there is an increased risk of threefold of developing metabolic syndrome among those who spend at least 5 hours per day of screen time compared to those who spend less than 1 hour. In a different study conducted on adults, there was an increase of 14% in diabetes-related type observed for every 2 hours spent watching TV and a 7 percent rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes for every 2 hours per day increase in working. This is because of decreased physical activity due to the rise in television screen time and unhealthy eating habits. The biological reason that can explain the effect of daily sedentary hours on CVD and DM risk is sitting for long periods, which may affect the performance of the protein that transports glucose from muscle to muscle.
Obesity is typically defined as the build-up of excess body fat to the degree that it could have adverse health consequences for person’s health. Studies have shown that waist circumference increases by 3.1 centimeters with an increase of 10% in the time you sit down. The weight gain can trigger insulin resistance that can result in the development of type 2 diabetes. An unhealthy lifestyle has been found to increase the rate of obesity in males between 14% and 25 percent and for women, from 11% up to 24% in those who watched 21 hours/week.
4. Hypertension (HTN)
A sedentary lifestyle can affect blood pressure by altering the cardiac output and peripheral resistance to vascular flow. A prolonged period of sedentary reduces metabolic demands and also reduces insulin sensitivity. However, it increases oxidative stress (which could lead to the destruction of DNA damage and tissue) and increases the number of inflammatory processes. A study found an immediate link between sedentary habits and a higher chance of contracting HTN (Hazard proportion: 1.48).
The effects of sedentary behavior can be increased blood triglyceride levels, lower HDL cholesterol concentrations (good cholesterol), and decreased insulin sensitivity. The detrimental effects of sitting down on health and metabolism may be enhanced by changes in lipoprotein-lipase (LPL) activities. LPL is an enzyme that aids in the absorption of free fatty acids into the skeletal muscle and the adipose tissue. Low amounts of LPL are associated with higher triglyceride levels, a decrease in HDL cholesterol levels, and a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
6. Bone health
A lifestyle of sedentary can result in a decrease in the bone’s mineral content. The shifts in the balance between deposition and resorption of bone are a result of sedentary habits, which result in a decrease in the amount of bone.
7. Musculoskeletal (skin and muscle) disorders
Muscles require regular training to remain strong, and a restless lifestyle can weaken muscles. Changes in posture and chronic sharp pain are just a few muscle-related effects that result from an uninvolved lifestyle. Long-term sedentary times were associated with chronic knee pain. Daily sedentary for more than 10 hours is strongly associated with chronic knee pain. Skin problems that result from a sedentary lifestyle can cause an alteration in skin color and the accumulation of fat around the folds of the eyes.
A sedentary lifestyle can increase the chance of breast cancer in women as well as prostate cancer in females and colon cancer. A high level of television and (or) video-watching are linked to an increased chance of colon cancer among women and men and endometrial cancer among women. Women who spent more than seven hours a day sitting down had a higher chance of contracting endometrial cancer than women who were sitting less than 3 hours per day.
Mindless sedentary behaviors like watching television and sitting or listening to music, and even talking in a seated position are all positively associated with the risk of depression. Sedentary habits can increase the risk of depression by preventing individuals from communicating directly with each other and decreasing social interaction, thereby cutting down on physical activities that aid in combatting depression and preventing it from occurring.
Tips for reducing the impact of a lifestyle that is sedentary
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator/escalator
- Take breaks during short walks.
- Take a walk and stand for a couple of minutes every 30 minutes throughout the day.
During leisure time
- Reduce screen time for laptops, TVs, as well as mobile phones.
- Screen exposure to media for children under two years of age is not recommended.
- Engage in physical exercise every 60 minutes to cut down on long-term sedentary.