Are you a couch potato? Do you spend the majority of your day just sitting or laying around? When was the last time you broke out a sweat?
Around the world, many people live a sedentary lifestyle that typically involves hours and hours of being in front of the computer or staring at their smartphones, binge watching movies and television series, or playing some recently released video games. If you are one of them, you should start getting concerned about your health because a day-to-day routine such as that does not bode well for your body.
What happens to your body if you do not exercise?
Not exercising, being physically inactive, and living a sedentary life have negative effects to your overall health and wellbeing. The following are what usually occurs if you spend a significant amount of your time barely moving:
- You are prone to gaining weight because your body can only burn few calories.
- Your bones are in danger of losing their mineral content, resulting to them getting weaker and more likely to suffer from injuries.
- Your metabolism slows down so your body has a hard time digesting, absorbing, and processing fats, sugars, and nutrients contained in the foods that you eat.
- Your muscles lose their endurance and strength because you do not use them as often as you should.
- Your blood circulation suffers, so your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases increases.
- You fail to ward off infections and diseases that threaten your health because your immune system is unable to perform its functions.
- You suffer from hormonal imbalance.
- You are likely to develop inflammations.
What medical conditions can strike you if you have an inactive lifestyle?
Lack of physical activity increases your risk of the following diseases:
- Obesity – This is a condition in which your body contains too much fat. It occurs when the amount of calories that you are eating is much greater than the amount of calories that you use.
- High blood pressure – If your systolic number is 140 or higher, or your diastolic number is 90 or higher, you have high blood pressure. It is usually triggered by stress, kidney disease, too much salt in the body, and smoking.
- High cholesterol – If your blood contains too much cholesterol, there is a tendency for plaque to form and stick to your artery walls, and cause problems in your blood flow. Narrow or blocked arteries can lead to coronary artery disease and increase your risk of arrhythmia and heart failure.
- Osteoporosis – This is a disease characterized by the thinning and weakening of the bones. If you have it, your bones become prone to breaking and other injuries. It primarily affects the spine, wrist, and hip.
- Depression – This is a serious illness that causes symptoms like feelings of sadness or emptiness, erratic sleeping patterns, exhaustion, disinterest in usual hobbies, appetite and digestive issues, and suicidal thoughts.
- Stroke – This is an illness that requires emergency medical attention. It happens when the blood flow to your brain is interrupted, and results to the death of your brain cells. Its symptoms include problems in one or both of your eyes, weakness or numbness of the arm, leg, or face, sudden difficulties in speech, loss of coordination and balance, and severe headaches.
- Colon cancer – When tumors appear in the large intestine, you can develop colon cancer. Its common signs and symptoms include blood in the stool, constipation or diarrhea, and sudden weight loss.
What should you do to get started with exercising?
Starting slow is alright. There is no need for you to immediately do two-hour long workouts everyday at the gym. A major change like jumping from an inactive lifestyle to an active one is not going to be easy, and doing it gradually can help you ease into it more effectively. It will be overwhelming, frustrating, and exhausting, all at the same time, and you might want to stop and give up right away. But, you should strive hard to not forget the long list of benefits that you can get from exercise, and make sure to keep your focus on your goals.
What are simple exercises you can do at home?
At home, you can increase your physical activity by doing common household chores and other tasks. The following are good examples of activities that you should start doing more around your house:
- While watching television, you can lift some dumbbells, do yoga stretches, run on a treadmill, or ride an exercise bike.
- Do a thorough and intense cleaning of your kitchen counters, floors, and bathroom every week.
- Vacuum your entire house as often as possible.
- When on your phone, stand up instead of sitting on the couch.
- Walk around your neighborhood with your kids, your dog, or a friend several times a week.
- Do some yard or gardening work, mow your lawn, or repair anything in the house that needs fixing.
What exercises can you do at work?
A lot of people sit when they are working. According to data, only about a fifth of the working American population engages in physically active tasks in their jobs. If you are a receptionist, programmer, in human resources, or working jobs that require you to just be at a desk or in front of a computer the majority of your working hours, being physically active can be very challenging. But, there are ways you can squeeze in some activity to your routine at the office and help improve your health even a little bit. Below are good examples:
- If you need to make a phone call or answer a call, stand up.
- Every hour or so, spend a minute or two out of your chair by standing up or marching in place.
- Use the stairs rather than the elevator.
- On your lunch break and other breaks, walk outside and breathe in some fresh air.
- Ask if you can get a treadmill desk or a stand-up desk.