Why A Sedentary Lifestyle Is Bad for Your Mental Health

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A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle where an individual participates in little to no physical activities.

The person living in such a way is colloquially referred to as a couch potato, and they may normally find themselves feeling lethargic even having done nothing much for the day.

The individual is also often characterized by sitting or lying down for long periods of time, playing video games obsessively, overusing mobile phones and computers, or excessively watching television for hours on end.

The lazy lifestyle can contribute to a lot of health hazards including mental illnesses, obesity, heart conditions, and even cancer.

Despite the well-established emotional and physical benefits related to participation of moderate physical activities, most people are not utilizing these valuable life-sustaining opportunities that reduce various illnesses.

Major Cause of Sedentary Activities

As compared to 50 years ago, there has now been an increase in sedentary jobs. The major contributing factor is technological advancement, which has paved the way for the sedentary lifestyle. Technology has brought about a significant number of changes in the work place, with an increase in desk jobs where most of the activities can be done while seated.

Health Effects of Sedentary Activities on Mental Health

According to research done by an Australian University, it was found that a sedentary lifestyle can not only cause somatic effects but may also severely impair mental health. Another research done by Deakin University Center for Nutrition Research proved that a sedentary lifestyle could exacerbate anxiety in a person.

  • Spending too much time seated is associated with a high risk of psychological distress and schizophrenia. However, among obese adults, participating in moderate to vigorous activities has been associated with minimal risk of depression.
  • Adults over 60 years old who avoid sedentary behaviors have a reduced risk of dementia.
  • Studies also prove that there is a 31% increase in development of bipolar mental disorder among the adults who engaged in more than 42 hours of TV watching or computer use in a week.

Although other factors such as pollution and technology do contribute to poor mental health, medical scientists have managed to establish a direct link between anxiety and increase in sedentary behaviors.

In summary, one of the solutions to better mental health is obvious: we should start moving more often! Therefore, take the stairs whenever you can.

Stand up and take a brisk walk around the office every hour if you have a sedentary desk job. Seek opportunities that will add more movements and physical activities into your day.

3 Reasons Why Walking Makes Great Exercise if You’re Usually Sedentary

Walking is without a doubt the ideal exercise for sedentary people to do. Not only does it help one improve his/her health, but also results in weight loss with little to no investment in equipment.

1) Improved Health

Results of several studies have all proven the same thing – a regular walking program reduces the risk of getting diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis-related falls.

Sedentary people tend to have elevated blood sugar levels when uncontrolled. However walking, when coupled with a sensible healthy eating plan, reduces the risk of high blood sugar, known as pre-diabetes, and in many cases the individual can come off of the medication necessary to control it.

Even moderate intensity exercise like walking, lowers the risk of heart disease. However oddly enough, intense walking does not lower the risk much more that moderate walking, proving that just getting out and walking at a brisk pace reduces the risk.

While walking does not cure osteoporosis, it does counteract the effects of having it – namely reducing the risk of falls which can result in bone breakage. Walking strengthens the muscles supporting joints and improves balance and flexibility, thus increasing stability and reducing the chances of falling.

2) Weight Loss

As far as weight is concerned, part of being sedentary usually ranges being at least overweight to obese.

As you know, this brings on a range of health problems itself, however exercising like walking helps burn off calories. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight.

A weekly deficit of 3,500 will result in a pound lost. Broken down, this averages out to 500 calories per day. A 200-pound person walking 30 minutes per day at 3 mph will burn about 150 calories. The other 350 calories are easily attained through healthy low-calorie food choices.

3) No Equipment Required

Walking can be done almost anywhere. All you really need is a good pair of walking shoes fitted to your feet. A pedometer is nice to have to track how many steps you are taking per day, but not necessary.

With some thought, it is easy to maximize the number of steps taken each day. For example, park at the far end of the lot and walk in the rest of the way. This works whether at work, the grocery store or shopping mall.

If you take public transportation to work, get off a stop or two before or after your closest stop and walk in the rest of the way. When faced with the choice of taking the elevator or stairs, choose the stairs.

Other Reason

No membership required – Unlike many other forms of exercise, no gym membership is required either. Walk for free in a local park, hiking trails or just around the block in your neighborhood.

Walk with a friend – If motivation is an issue, start walking with a friend or neighbor that wants to exercise too. Being responsible to each other is a great motivator to not missing a walking session because each of you don’t want to let the other person down.

Because of its simplicity and the health benefits derived, walking makes a great exercise to start with when coming off a sedentary period and getting back in the exercise game.

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