What Are the Benefits of Becoming More Active and Abandoning a Sedentary Lifestyle?
Before I get into the benefits of becoming more active, here is a closer look into grasping what it is and the risks involved in being inactive.
With the fast pace lifestyle we live, there isn’t always time to stay active. This is ironic because even though we’re “moving fast”; we’re not exactly moving at all.
The fact that things have become so easy and everything is at a quick touch of a button, it makes doing physical stuff very limited.
What is a sedentary lifestyle?
“Sedentary” is the term used to describe the act of not partaking in physical activities. This may include:
- Not walking to the convenience store
- Spending more time watching TV
- Staying indoors
- Not having any exercise incorporated into your day/week
- Laying down or sitting when engaging in activities (talking on the phone, spending time in front of the computer for most of the day)
What are the risks of being sedentary?
Research and studies have concluded that leading a sedentary lifestyle could be linked to the development of various health conditions. Some of the disadvantages of little or no physical activity include but are not limited to:
- Heart conditions (heart disease)
- Mental disorders (anxiety and depression)
- Certain cancers
- Headache disorders
- Herniated discs in the spine (sitting in one position for too long)
- Increased blood pressure
- Lower lifespan
- Weight gain and obesity
Why are many of us leading sedentary lifestyles?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a staggering 60-85% of the world’s population lead sedentary lifestyles. That only leaves as little as 40-15% of the population practicing an active way of life. This is shocking because that means many people are already in bad shape.
Technology may be making things a bit “too convenient”
Technology has made it super easy and convenient to buy and pay for almost anything online and have it delivered. You can skip the long queues and busy shopping malls and simply access what you want with a mere click of a few buttons.
Technology is not the only “culprit” when it comes to more people becoming less active.
Other factors that lead to a lack of physical activity include working a desk job or being a driver.
It could start at a young age
When adults lead sedentary lives it sometimes stems with their upbringing. If as a child they were not very active and played sports, this could easily continue as they become older. Long hours of screen time may instil the effects of being mostly inactive.
Your favourite TV shows may be keeping you glued into one position
When it comes to TV shows and movies, this also contributes to inactivity and a lifestyle at high risk of developing certain health issues.
What are the benefits of living actively?
The more you exercise, the more you lower your stress levels
Exercising causes a beneficial effect on your mental status. It helps to increase the “happy hormones” that include endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine among others. This is why you’ll feel better after a workout.
Being active supports neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain
Our brain produces many neurotransmitters that allow communication from the brain to the body. Neurotransmitters regulate mood changes. Serotonin, dopamine and endorphins are what make us feel good and happy. Exercising and meditation may help to increase these chemical signals in the brain.
Tap into your creative side
Since exercising boosts an “upbeat” mood, it’s no wonder it helps increase creativity in people. When we are not feeling down and out, depressed and anxious, we can focus on creative things. Maybe you enjoy taking photographs; or have the talent to create artistic cuisines, or you craft beautiful sculptures. When in a good mood, the sense of creativity will flow at will.
Exercising is good for your memory
Chemical balancing and distribution happens all the time in the body. When we exercise it lowers stress as mentioned before and also improves memory. In the same way, exercise can also help improve sleep and increase a sense of relaxation after a long day.
How to be more active even when you're working from home
How to start being more active?
Moving more often will help you combat the effects of a “slow”, “inactive” life. To burn calories, your body has to keep moving. To adapt this into your days, try to opt for the following easy choices:
- Walk to your destination if it is close
- Stand and pace while talking on the phone instead of sitting down
- Go to the shopping mall and get in some extra steps
- Standing during your breaks
- During your breaks, you could walk about outside
- Have a walk about during commercials
- Opting to play outdoors with your toddlers or young kids
- Set your reminder to stand up every half hour
- Take frequent breaks that involve getting up and walking
To make this exercise even more exciting you could opt to keep track of your activity.
You can purchase an activity tracker, or wearable tech. Depending on which one you have, these devices can keep track of your heart rate, count your steps, sleep stages and more. As a bonus, some activity trackers are extremely robust, dust and waterproof. You can thus enjoy a hike, gym workout, or partake in selected sports activities without necessarily taking it off.
Get active even when you’re working from home
Since many of us are working from home during the challenging time of coronavirus, slipping into a non-active routine is easy. To prevent this, you can go ahead and give the following a try:
Yoga helps you to relax while toning muscles
#1 Stretch every few hours
Stretching will help get your blood circulation going, and it will help alleviate tension in your muscles especially when seated in the same position for long. You can do this by setting an alarm for every two to three hours.
Stretches like seen in yoga, can undoubtedly aid you to relax.
#2 Take breaks
When we are pressed for deadlines and time, it’s easy to forget about the clock and just get consumed in work. This can be bad because that would mean sitting for longer hours in the same position and not stopping to give your eyes a break from the screen.
A short break in between work sessions can also help to change your focus so that you can come back with a fresh mental state.
#3 Get fresh air
Being indoors can take its toll and this is especially when working from home permanently. Make time to go outside and take in nature’s beauty all around. This may not be appropriate during covid-19, but going onto your balcony or stepping out onto your patio may help.
Breathe in the fresh air and take a moment to just be in the presence of it all.
#4 Get an online yoga class
These days there are many YouTube channels dedicated to exercise and fitness, it’s easy to find a yoga class to help you get through your day. Why yoga? It is relaxing and it helps you to unwind when feeling stressed or anxious. This is because of the breathing and stretches that work together through every pose.
Subscribe to a yoga channel and let the instructor help you master some of those poses. In the end it could contribute to your wellness.
#5 Walk when taking calls
Sitting down through your call means you’re not getting those muscles moving. Instead of sitting you could try pacing to and fro or even just standing. It may not seem like much, but your body needs to exert energy to perform these actions.
#6 Improvise with exercise equipment
While it may not be possible to go to the gym, some people have gotten creative when it comes to home exercise. Bottles of water make for good weights, as do sacks of vegetables. You could also use a bag of sugar or rice as weights. Skipping with a rope is fast paced and will get your heart rate up and pumping.
If you haven’t had the time to invest in a stationary bike or treadmill, then running in one place will also work. You can even increase the challenge by adding leg and arm weights.
#7 Wear clothes that will inspire working out
Some people find that if they are dressed for the occasion in this case exercising while working from home, they’re more likely to get exercise done. Wear running shoes and a track-suit in the house and make it a thing.
If you have a staircase at home then run up the stairs for a challenging “uphill” feel. If you have a long corridor, use it to your advantage and take a few steps up and down the length of the corridor.
The conclusion to the benefits of enjoying an active lifestyle
Sedentary living is easy to adapt to and hard to “shake off.” Mindful practices like setting aside exercise times, and purposefully being more physical could help.
You will not only stand a chance of losing weight, but also be happier and fulfilled emotionally and mentally.
It’s clear that exercise and opting for physical activity not only affects your mind in a positive way, but also your health.
© 2020 Nancy Amon