Why sitting too much is a problem
Many of us spend a lot of time sitting – in our cars, at our desks and on the couch. This type of physical inactivity is a major problem worldwide and can lead to many medical problems. Lindsay Kirkland, RD, explained why we need to be more active and offered some tips to help us get there.
“A sedentary lifestyle leads to poor health outcomes which account for 9% of premature deaths worldwide,” Kirkland said. “To put this in perspective, more than 5 million people are dying young due to a lack of exercise! Just a small 10% increase in activity can avert 500,000 deaths annually. An increase in exercise has been shown to decrease mortality rates by positively affecting heart health, weight, blood sugars, cholesterol and even blood pressure. It really is that important.”
Why are we more sedentary?
Kirkland said about 55% of an adult’s waking time is spent sedentary.
“With technology, we no longer have to get off the couch. From changing the thermostat to ordering groceries, we simply pull out our tablets or say the words out loud to one of our smart devices and it’s taken care of. Everything is in the palm of our hands and that’s not always to our advantage.”
As a result, more than 80% of the world’s population does not meet the recommendations for physical activity. This is causing an increase in weight-related health complications, many of which can be improved or even prevented by regular exercise.
How can we become more active?
Getting started with healthy changes is the hard part. Kirkland said finding a routine that works with your lifestyle is key.
“Ironically enough, you can use technology to help you by setting reminders in your phone until your routine is down and becomes a habit,” he said. “We also have tons of exercise videos available to us online and it’s important to use those resources. For many of us, we are more likely to get our exercise in if we don’t have to leave the comfort of our homes.”
For a sedentary person, just 15 minutes of exercise a day will lower your risk of dying by 14% and can add three years to your life. Small changes can make a huge difference.
If you are looking to take a more aggressive approach to your new exercise routine, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults age 18–64 aim for 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
“If you start with 15 minutes daily, this already puts you a little over 100 minutes of exercise a week. This is most certainly not out of reach and can have an amazing effect on your quality of life,” Kirkland said.
Find a doctor
Whether you’re looking for a primary care physician or need to see a specialist, we’re here to help with experienced, compassionate care near you.Find a Doctor