Is Your Lifestyle Too Sedentary? Here Are 8 Signs You're Not Moving Enough
Did you know one in four adults don't meet the global recommended levels of physical activity? That's unfortunate, considering that a sedentary lifestyle—defined by a Sedentary Behavior Research Network's (SBRN) report as any waking behavior characterized by an energy expenditure less than 1.5 metabolic equivalents, while in a sitting, reclining, or lying posture—is linked to an "increased risk of adverse health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and increased risk of all-cause mortality," says Jessica Matthews, DBH, a national board-certified health and wellness coach and assistant professor of kinesiology and integrative wellness at Point Loma Nazarene University. Put in layman's terms, a sedentary lifestyle is marked by a deficiency of physical activity with long, uninterrupted periods of time or significant portions of the day spent sitting or lying down.
Simply put: Our bodies were not made to be stationary for long periods. "Historically, if a person was sitting or lying down for hours when not asleep, they would have starved or gotten eaten by something," says Aimee Layton, PhD, an exercise physiologist from Columbia University and a Peloton Health & Wellness Advisory Council member. Nowadays, something is still going to get you—but "that something becomes disease and premature aging." And it doesn't take long for sedentary tendencies to wreak havoc on your health. In fact, research shows it can take just two weeks of inactivity (in young, healthy people) to cause some pretty significant health effects, including reduced muscle mass and metabolic changes.
How Long Is Too Long to Sit Still?
The general recommendation is to reduce prolonged sedentary behavior to no more than 60 minutes, Matthews says. To keep up, she suggests focusing on greater frequency of movement throughout the entire day.
"At the end of every hour aim for three to six minutes of movement," adds Joe Holder, a Nike Master Trainer and health and wellness consultant. "Set an alarm and just stand up, walk around. Do some sit-to-stands from your chair." These "exercise snacks," as Holder calls them, break up prolonged periods of sitting and get your blood flowing. "I can't really speak enough about the need for you to let your body do what it was made to do: not sit," he says.
Still not sure if your habits are too sedentary? Here are some major signs you're not moving enough for lifelong mental and physical health, and that it's time to boost your physical activity.
Signs You're Not Moving Enough
Remember, "even small increases in physical activity offer positive benefits in terms of improved health and well-being," Matthews says. Start small and stick to it, because when "implemented consistently, over time they lead to big results."
Now, let's get moving, shall we? Here are 8 Ways to Start a Fitness Routine You Can Stick With.