In our last blog we discussed about the different states of physical activity/ lifestyle and that our calorie intake needs to be equal to the level of physical activity. Today most of us city dwellers in white collar jobs fall into “Sedentary” lifestyle category. Infact not just adults but also kids are becoming more and more physically inactive thanks to the smartphones, ipads, TV’s, etc. These lifestyle changes have adverse effects on our health.
Sedentary derives from the Latin word ‘sedere’, which means ‘to sit’. This includes any activity that has a low-level energy expenditure.2
At rest, the organs of the body require an essential amount of energy for vital functioning which is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Each motion, action, and gesture entails an additional energy cost. The more active we are the more energy we expend.
Health risks of sitting too long
Sitting is becoming a normal routine for most people across age-groups. Babies/ infants are made to sit in front of the TV or iPad so that parents get some time-off, children are spending more time in front of TV and on gadgets, youth are sitting at work-desks and then with pizzas in front of the TV and so are all others on white-collar jobs.
Extensive periods of inactivity are linked to obesity, but this relationship is complex. Many studies have found that young people who watch more TV have higher dietary energy intakes, through consuming energy-dense foods and drinks whilst watching TV, or this might possibly be due to advertising or psychosocial effects.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended a restriction on screen-based media use for children and adolescents of 1–2 hours per day, and to remove media from their bedrooms.Such viewing may displace other interactive activities crucial for natural development, and is therefore ill-advised for children under two years.
Prolonged sitting time is thought to slow down the body’s functions related to utilisation of fats and carbohydrates, possibly because of the absence of muscle contraction. These adverse health effects may be why sedentary behaviour is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, CVD, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and all-cause mortality in adults, and CVD markers in adolescents.Inactivity is also known to disturb bone mineralisation, reduce bone density (which increases the risk of osteoporosis), and possibly cause deep vein thrombosis and muscular discomfort, such as back pain.
Stand up, move more, more often
Taking short breaks from sedentary activities can go a long way in preventing diseases. It could be simple activities like standing up while talking on the phone, walking at a normal pace for 2–5 minutes each hour (e.g. to get a drink or talk to a colleague), etc
A variety in actions performed by us can help to stimulate the metabolism. Changing body postures from one to another is beneficial. Even changing from a seated to a standing posture is thought to switch on important beneficial processes such as those involved in fat metabolism.
Unfortunately with technological advancements, human effort is decreasing making life more and more sedentary .While participating in moderate-intensity physical activity is important, it is just as critical to reduce and interrupt sitting time with light-intensity activities. Big corporates, MNC’s and schools need to functionalize work space to allow for more movement, or active lessons at office and school. Innovative initiatives are required to motivate people to get up and move which in turn can be beneficial for increasing productivity, academic progress, as well as boost economy.
Although growing awareness is making people adopt more ways to increase physical activity, the fact remains that a majority part of the day sitting at the desk. These people face health risks from sitting for continuous periods of time. Exploring ways of breaking up periods of inactivity (i.e. standing up every so often) are becoming more important.
Stay healthy with eKincare – your personal health manager!
Dr. Pooja, Senior Nutritionist @eKincare.com