March 26, 2023

How much can a sedentary lifestyle affect our health? What are the consequences of a too sedentary life? We are made to move, there is no doubt about this. Man has evolved in the context of a constant level of physical exertion and, conversely, of a variable supply of food. Today modern man mostly lives in an opposite condition of low and constant movement as well as excessive food intake.

The health effects of a sedentary lifestyle have been talked about for decades. Many of the diseases of the modern world are directly or indirectly favored by the reduced level of physical activity typical of today: hypertension, heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, diabetes and even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s are favored by a sedentary and counteracted lifestyle. from a regular physical activity plan.

With a chronic sedentary lifestyle, the human body undergoes a real motor regression, i.e. a progressive loss of functional abilities that are not only borne by the muscles but also by the heart, lungs, blood vessels, nerves, production of hormones and neurotransmitters. The entire biochemical and metabolic machinery of the body suffers from a lack of effort and movement.

What is a sedentary lifestyle

It is paradoxical but a sedentary person is much more likely to be perpetually tired than an active person. Have you ever noticed? The reason is simple: sport is providing the body with what it needs to stay healthy. The sedentary is instead giving an overdose of the sofa, television and very often the wrong foods.

If the organism is functioning at its best, is tired from the correct dose of movement and then allowed to recover with rest and an adequate supply of food, the person will not feel tired, unmotivated and lacking in energy but, on the contrary, strong, dynamic and enthusiastic.

Regular physical movement also restores the correct production of neurotransmitters which are the substances responsible for our psycho-emotional well-being. The main neurotransmitters and neurohormones are responsible for several effects:

  • Serotonin – good mood and happiness
  • Dopamine: gratification (reward)
  • Endorphins: calm and serenity
  • Oxytocin: confidence and optimism

Effects of sedentary lifestyle

Being sedentary is one of the most harmful choices not only for the body but also for the psyche. The effects on health are profound and are amplified to the extent that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with other erroneous behaviors. Due to the mechanisms of associations of habits, it is in fact more likely that a sedentary eats even badly than an athlete, who smokes or drinks too much alcohol. Often a sedentary lifestyle is only one of the various components of an unhealthy lifestyle, which has dire consequences in the short and medium-long term. For years, researchers have been pointing out very clearly the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle. The risk increases for a long series of diseases, including serious ones:

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Diabetes and metabolic diseases
  • Hypertension and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthrosis
  • Sarcopenia and frailty syndrome of the elderly
  • Tumors
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Anxiety and depression

Obviously, physical activity is not a panacea against every disease and does not even represent a substitute for any necessary therapies for diseases in progress (however, this must always be decided by the treating doctor, just as it is necessary to speak to the doctor before starting to play sports if you have any illness). But certainly adequate and regular physical activity is a powerful preventive factor as well as an activity capable of making life more fun and intense.

How to change the sedentary lifestyle

When it comes to physical activity, we tend to divide the world in two: the lazy and the active. The former see movement as an enormous effort and therefore tend to avoid it. The latter, on the other hand, perceive it first of all as a pleasure, a fun and then face it with enthusiasm. For the lazy, becoming regular seems like a utopia or in any case a difficult obstacle to overcome. For active people, skipping training is more annoying than coping with fatigue.

  • Try to stabilize the habit as soon as possible: habits are formed thanks to the repetition of the stimulus. You are more likely to get into the habit of walking every day starting with 10 minutes a day with no exceptions (even if it rains or snowing!) Rather than 2 hours on Sunday mornings. A recent study shows how 61 continuous days can be enough to start a habit. In the perspective of a lifetime, two months are nothing.
  • Focus on one thing at a time : habits struggle to take root if we work on too many fronts. Better to focus on one change at a time. Multitasking can be a trap.
  • Focus on the goals of the process and not of the result : if you start exercising thinking only of the long-term benefits you will soon be frustrated and disappointed. For those you have to be patient but they will not come if you do not focus on the single effort, think in stages.
  • Any form of regular movement is better than a sedentary lifestyle.
  • It is necessary to start gradually and on the basis of the starting conditions an ad hoc program must be calibrated
  • It is best to first stabilize the habit by focusing on an enjoyable activity and then think about the one that may be most useful in terms of health.
  • There are no shortcuts and regularity pays more for anything else.
  • The psychological aspects are fundamental in the initial phase to allow the formation of a permanent habit.
  • Let’s start from this and learn to appreciate the beauty of movement, the natural expression of the thousand miraculous functions of our body. I hope this article helped you understand the importance of physical movement. Find out more by clicking below, there is a free video course for you dedicated to health.

Diseases due to a sedentary lifestyle

The sedentary lifestyle recalls other chronic conditions and diseases that can occur over time:

  • increased consumption of tobacco and alcohol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • circulation problems
  • back problems
  • joint problems
  • obesity
  • high cholesterol
  • metabolic syndrome
  • high blood pressure
  • osteoporosis
  • increased inflammatory processes
  • anxiety and depression

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