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Sedentary Lifestyle: What are the Risks and How Can You Mitigate Them?

21 August 2023

Most of us are thankful to technology for making our lives easier. So many tasks took hours to complete before the advent of technology, but today, we're just a few clicks away from getting things done. While technology has helped us save time and physical effort by making tasks less strenuous and less time-consuming, it has also put us at risk of many health conditions.

Technology has led us towards a sedentary lifestyle. Most people today spend 6 or more hours a day sitting in one place, with little to no physical activity. While you may think little physical exercise means more comfort, it actually isn't good for health.

This blog post highlights some of the major risks of a sedentary lifestyle and also walks you through how you can mitigate these risks.

Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Working behind a desk, sitting for several hours every day, seems tempting. Not having to move too much muscle and not feeling tired at the end of the day is something anyone would like. But in reality, it's not an ideal way to live your life. Lack of physical activity does more harm to you than good.

Let's look at the risks a sedentary lifestyle puts you at:



Muscle Degradation

If you don't use your muscles, your muscles will start to lose their strength and endurance. Your muscles will become weak over time, resulting in you struggling to get even the least physical tasks done without feeling discomfort or pain. The tasks that you once used to do comfortably will feel too physically demanding because your muscles aren't used to so much activity now, all thanks to the prolonged periods of insufficient physical activity.

Lower Back Pain and Musculoskeletal Disorders

The biggest risk of a sedentary lifestyle is chronic lower back pain and musculoskeletal disorders. Sitting for long hours causes muscle fatigue, especially in the core muscles, which translates into lower back pain. The pain is worsened due to additional pressure on the back if you're sitting in an incorrect posture. If you continue to sit in incorrect posture and not engage in healthy physical activities like walking, jogging, or any other form of exercise, you may end up developing musculoskeletal disorders, which can lead to lifelong disabilities.

Vein-Related Problems

A sedentary lifestyle also increases the risk of vein-related problems. When you don't move much, the blood flow throughout the body is affected. Long periods of inactivity may cause blood to pool in the lower extremities. Blood pooling and poor blood circulation increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose, and spider veins. These are common conditions that occur due to the formation of clots in the veins due to poor blood flow.



Heart Problems

A sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical activity also increases the risk of heart problems like hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary artery disease, etc. Individuals who spend a lot of time sitting are also at a higher risk of a heart attack.

Type-2 Diabetes

A sedentary lifestyle also increases the risk of type-2 diabetes. Insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar and metabolism. It helps the body utilize sugar for energy production. However, if you don't engage in physical activity as often as you should, it can lead to insulin resistance, eventually leading to type-2 diabetes. Individuals with type-2 diabetes are at risk of other health complications like nerve damage, kidney damage, foot problems, vision problems, and chronic skin conditions.

Decreases Bone Mass

Just like a lack of physical activity affects muscle mass and strength, it also decreases bone mass, and this puts you at a massive risk of bone injury, even from minor impacts and falls. Regular physical activity helps build bone mass, strengthens bones, and reduces the risk of bone injuries.



Obesity

One of the most common risks of a sedentary lifestyle is obesity. When you don't exercise or move about much during the day, you don't burn enough calories. The number of calories you consume exceeds the number of calories you burn, which results in weight gain and obesity if you don't do something about it.

Mental Health Problems

A sedentary lifestyle has also resulted in numerous mental health conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression. Physical activity and exercise release serotonin which is a feel-good hormone. Without exercise, less serotonin is released, as a result of which you may feel anxious, sad, and depressed.

How to Mitigate Risks Associated with Sedentary Lifestyle

Lack of physical activity can make you sick, so much so that your day-to-day life can get affected. Most of us are living a sedentary life today without realizing the harm it can do to us. It won't be wrong to say that we've become ignorant and negligent about our well-being because a sedentary lifestyle feels easier and more comfortable.

However, now that you know what your comfortable lifestyle can do to your health, you should be looking into ways to mitigate these risks.

Below are some ways to reduce and even mitigate the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.



Stay Physically Active

One of the best ways to steer clear of the risks associated with a lack of physical activity is to stay physically active. If you can't make time out for exercise, you should practice taking breaks between work and walking around. Ideally, a minute of moving around after every 30 minutes of sitting will ensure healthy muscles and bones and minimize the stress and pressure on the back, reducing the chances of lower back pain and musculoskeletal disorders.



Improve Your Work Conditions

Since you spend most of your day at work, improving your work conditions is important. One of the biggest reasons a sedentary lifestyle is so harmful is that you spend a lot of time sitting in the wrong posture, which puts pressure on the muscles, bones, and tendons. If you work on making your workspace ergonomics-friendly, you can reduce the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Some of the best ergonomic equipment for workspaces that can help mitigate the risks associated with prolonged sitting include:

Ergonomic Work Desks

These desks are height adjustable, meaning every user can adjust the height of their workstation to suit themselves. This ensures they don't have to sit in awkward postures for long hours. Tall individuals can raise the desk's height so they don't have to sit with their backs curved and heads bent forward. Shorter individuals can lower the desks so that they don't have to sit with their backs stretched and arms placed at awkward angles. With posture correction at work, the stress on the body from prolonged sitting is reduced significantly.

You can also use a standing desk at work. A standing desk ensures micro-movements in the leg muscles that keep muscle fatigue at bay and also ensures a smooth blood flow through the legs.

Ergonomic Chair

Ergonomic chairs like the Ergonomic Office Chair Mesh Swivel Chair 606 have an adjustable height feature to allow the users to adjust the height to suit their comfort needs and ensure that their feet aren't dangling in the air. These chairs also have an adjustable seat depth feature and a flexible backrest. Some ergonomic chairs also have armrests. These features ensure that the user's body gets adequate support and that their bodies aren't under any pressure or stress that may put them at risk of posture-related health conditions.

Use a Footrest

A sedentary lifestyle, as you know by now, affects blood circulation and causes the blood to pool in the legs, putting you at risk of vein-related problems. Using a footrest reduces this risk. Keeping your feet slightly elevated ensures a smooth and unhindered blood circulation.



Incorporate Exercise into Your Routine

Incorporating exercise into your routine is your best bet at mitigating the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Exercises as simple as walking and jogging can do the trick. However, if your work doesn't leave you with enough time to exercise, you can bring exercise to work. Numerous fitness equipment options can be used at work. You read that right. You can use fitness equipment like an under-desk treadmill and under-desk exercise cycle so that you can work and work out simultaneously!

Closing Words

Who doesn't like to laze around all day long and not do anything that may tire them out? We hate to break it to you, but not doing anything and sitting all day can also tire you out. Sitting all day long in incorrect posture can result in muscle fatigue, back and shoulder pain, and swelling in the feet, which will tire you just as much and put you at risk of other health conditions.

So, it's important that you take charge today and start adopting practices that will help you mitigate the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.