What is Sedentaryism?
In today’s society, with technological evolution, the modern lifestyle and dependence on devices such as smartphones and tablets are contributing to the increase in sedentary lifestyle, which has become a pandemic of the 21st century and a public health problem associated with various diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Sedentary behavior is influenced by personal motivation, health, mobility and social environment.
A sedentary lifestyle is a lifestyle in which one does not practice any type of physical exercise regularly, in addition to remaining seated for a long time and not being willing to carry out simple day-to-day activities, which has a direct influence on health and well-being. be. According to the WHO definition, adults aged 18 to 60 who cannot achieve at least 150 minutes of light to moderate physical activity per week are considered sedentary, which is equivalent to 30 minutes, five times a week. As the years go by, it is common for physical activity to decrease, which can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, the relationship between a sedentary lifestyle and aging is significant and encompasses a series of health factors.
Symptoms of Sedentary Lifestyle
Below are some symptoms of a sedentary lifestyle:
- Persistent burnout: Sedentary individuals often deal with constant exhaustion as their metabolism slows down due to the lack of activities that stimulate them;
- Joint pain: Joint discomfort is also an indicator of a sedentary lifestyle, arising due to weight gain resulting from the lack of physical exercise. This excess load can overload joints and bones, notably the knees;
- Decreased muscle strength: Adherence to a sedentary lifestyle contributes to a decrease in both strength and muscle mass, as muscles are not activated through physical exercise. Daily activities are not enough to stimulate all muscle groups in the body;
- Accumulation of abdominal fat: The deposit of fat in the abdominal region occurs because the energy ingested from food is not used in the same proportion. Therefore, the body stores excess fat, predominantly in the abdominal area;
- Excessive weight gain: Considerable weight gain is one of the primary indicators of a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity results in low caloric and energy expenditure, leading to the storage of unused energy in the form of fat;
- Poor sleep quality: A sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact sleep quality. This is due to the decrease in the production and release of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which regulate sleep. Consequently, even if the sedentary person experiences tiredness throughout the day, their sleep may not be invigorating, restful or deep;
The dangers associated with a sedentary lifestyle are present at all stages of life and can worsen significantly during old age. As already mentioned, the absence of physical activity can result in weight gain and consequently lead to obesity. This leads to an increased risk of developing other illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular problems, in addition, there are negative impacts on muscle mass and bone density and all of this, especially for older individuals, can lead to serious consequences for physical, cognitive and emotional health. Adopting an active lifestyle and regular physical exercise can and should be present at all stages of life, including advanced ages, as these habits can provide a series of health benefits and contribute to healthier aging and full.
Causes of Sedentary Lifestyle
Below are the main causes of a sedentary lifestyle:
- Urban development and the increase in crime: In certain cities, insufficient green space, inadequate sidewalks, and safety concerns may discourage participation in outdoor physical activities.
- Traffic congestion and passive transport use: Reliance on vehicles and public transport for daily commutes can reduce opportunities for physical activity, such as walking or cycling.
- Shortage of public recreational areas: Communities that lack adequate outdoor spaces for physical activity or that face a lack of sports facilities may be limited in exercise opportunities.
- Long working hours and little leisure time: The lack of time to maintain an active lifestyle is a common reality today. Therefore, many people choose to rest during their free time, due to the circumstances they face.
- Aging and chronic health conditions: The aging process and the presence of chronic diseases can restrict some people’s ability to engage in physical activities.
Treatment of Sedentarism
To free yourself from a sedentary lifestyle, it is advisable to start gradually and set possible and achievable goals in order to maintain motivation. To achieve this, it is possible to take the first steps through small changes in lifestyle habits, such as reducing car dependence or opting for the stairs instead of the elevator. Furthermore, establishing a routine with specific times to dedicate yourself to health and moving your body also proves to be an effective strategy.
Below, we have some tips on how to make simple changes to your routine that will help reduce a sedentary lifestyle:
- Regular medical follow-up: Remember that before starting any physical activity, have a consultation with a general practitioner or other doctor you trust, just to check your health conditions and understand which activity best suits your current health condition. Pay attention if you notice any unpleasant symptoms during or after sports, and see your doctor for reassessment whenever necessary.
- Establish goals: To overcome a sedentary lifestyle and maintain motivation, it is important to set goals that encourage continuous exercise. This may involve starting with walks of 15 to 20 minutes a day, gradually increasing the duration over time, or even starting with a block walk and gradually increasing the distance covered.
- Get up more: If you spend most of the day sitting, especially when working or studying, how about finding opportunities to get up a little? Establishing a time to hydrate, perhaps every hour, or even choosing to use a more distant bathroom, taking a brief walk down the hallway, are good alternatives. The key is to keep moving!
- Vary your activities with actions that stimulate the body: For those who tend to sit for long periods, such as at home, it is an excellent suggestion to alternate daily tasks with activities that involve movement. If possible, get up from a sitting position and do household chores, take care of the plants, play with your pet or have fun with the children;
- Prefer the stairs: How about replacing the elevator with the stairs? Even though it’s a simple change, it already breaks inactivity, raises the heart rate and contributes to burning calories;
- Move and stretch your body: Even when sitting or lying down, it is possible to make small movements. Move your arms, feet, legs, shoulders, wrists and fingers. Whenever possible, stretch. This will certainly bring many benefits!
To avoid a sedentary lifestyle, it is advisable to dedicate yourself to at least 30 minutes of physical activity, at least 5 times a week. It is important to highlight that this recommendation does not only apply to overweight individuals, but also to people with a thin build, as they may experience similar problems due to a lack of movement and healthy habits.
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