The Dangers of Being Sedentary, Both Short-Term and Long-Term


Having a sedentary or inactive lifestyle involves a lot of sitting and lying down with very little to no exercise. In the United States and around the world, more people are doing sedentary activities like sitting at a computer, watching television and playing video games. We also spend a lot of time using transportation to get to places such as work and the grocery store.

Too much sedentary time is known to have short-term and long-term health risks. Our bodies need regular physical activity to stay healthy. While that doesn’t mean we have to go to the gym every day, it does mean that more movement is important.

Short-Term Health Effects

  • Fewer calories burned which can lead to weight gain
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Poorer blood circulation
  • Muscle tension and knots
  • Feelings of restlessness, anxiety or depression

Long-Term Health Effects

  • Increased risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Slowed metabolism and weight gain
  • Chronic pain in the back, neck, shoulders and legs
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Loss of muscle strength and endurance
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis from weaker bones and joints
  • Increased chances of dementia, anxiety and depression
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Increased inflammation
  • Increased risk of certain cancers

Tips to Reduce Your Sedentary Time

If you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to start incorporating more movement into your routine. You don’t have to all of a sudden start going to the gym five or six days a week, but you can start small and do simple things to be more active.

  • Devote time to active activities with your housework, yard work and gardening.
  • Commit to taking a short walk after dinner a few nights a week.
  • Take a walk or do some stretches on your lunch break.
  • Work out at home with a guided video (YouTube, DVD’s).
  • Keep moving while you watch television (lift weights, do some light stretches, pedal an exercise bike or walk on a treadmill/elliptical).
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator if you are able to.
  • Get some exercise equipment for your home such as free weights, a yoga ball, resistance bands and an exercise mat. Set up a small space in your living room, bedroom, garage, etc. where you can devote time to physical activity.
  • Make fun physical activity a part of get-togethers with loved ones.

For more information about breaking out of a sedentary lifestyle, click here to see additional tips from the Your Weight Matters Blog.

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