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The Health Risks Of A Sedentary Lifestyle

Don’t forget to get your body moving every now and then…

Have you ever considered how much you sit during a day, from the eight-hour-a-day desk job to unwinding on the couch in front of the television until you have your supper and hit the sack? Of course, not to mention the dependence on emails and cellphone apps, which help to get your work done without having to go anywhere. Helpful advancements in technology — be it direct-deposit pay cheques, online shopping and even the groceries that are now a click away — were unthinkable a decade or two back. However, we seem to have forgotten that any time you get the blood pumping and moving, it stimulates organs to do things that are healthier.

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Studies show too much sitting leads to cardiac ailments

A study quoted by a British newspaper states that for each hour a day adults spend sitting down during their lifetime, the likelihood of developing heart disease goes up by 14 percent, so it seems sitting could be as bad as smoking. Therefore, if you are involved in a job that requires you to sit for a prolonged period of time, beware, you may be prone to cardiac ailments. In fact, inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults, according to the World Health Organization.

There have been several clinical records that have proved that a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to the human body. It results in obesity and has been cited as one of the main reasons for cancer as well. This is because an inactive body goes into storage mode and stops functioning as effectively as it should.

For women over 30 years of age, being a couch potato increases risks of heart-related problems as compared to those smoking or carrying extra weight. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health conducted by University of Queensland has shown that sitting for hours and being inactive has been the main cause for cardiac issues among women. Most often, people fail to realise that daily gym sessions aren’t sufficient to undo the damage caused by sitting all that time. Scientists from the Medical College of Wisconsin tracked levels of activity of 2,031 adults whose average age was 50. They compared the number of hours each participant spent sitting down each day with the levels of deposits in blood vessels that act as signal for heart disease. When we sit for long periods of time, enzyme changes occur in our muscles that can lead to increased blood sugar levels. The effects happen very quickly and regular exercise won’t fully protect you.

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Importance of exercise

So it is recommended that you get up once an hour from your desk, even if it is just to walk around briefly or go to the bathroom. Some people have even started using treadmill desks at work, anything that contracts our muscles and gets blood flowing. It dampens down inflammation and cuts down the risk of depositing plaque in the coronary arteries. While too much sitting is just as dangerous as smoking and 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day is not enough to reverse the effects, the good news is that a mere five minutes of movement every hour prevents health dangers. In short, take a walk during lunch or while talking on the phone, take the stairs instead of the elevator and use a pedometer to track your daily steps. Plus if you have a sedentary job, do not go home and sit in front of the TV for hours.

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Simple Ways To Get Active

To reduce the risks associated with inactivity, it is best to exercise at least 150 minutes a week and reduce time spent sitting or lying.
Here are some tips from England’s National Health Service on how adults aged 19 to 64 can reduce sitting time throughout the day, including at work, when travelling and at home.

  • Stand if you are taking public transport
  • Set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
  • Alternate working while seated with standing
  • Place a laptop on a box or something similar to work standing
  • Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling
  • Swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies

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