Have you ever heard the expression, “An object in motion tends to stay in motion.”? Well what do you think a sedentary object is going to continue to do? Humans are pretty habitual creatures. It’s much easier to continue to do something from a formed habit than to step outside a comfort zone and try something different. If you have formed a habit of a sedentary lifestyle, chances are you’re going to continue until you either hit rock bottom, have a life changing experience, or find the motivation to get moving.
Have you ever looked at a runner and wondered how they can do what they do day after day? They are always running. They have formed a habit. Runners speak of a “runner’s high”, and it’s no secret exercise releases endorphins that directly affect the brain. The need for an endorphin fix is not as strong as adherence to a habit. It takes anywhere from 17-21 days to form a habit. Some people may be able to get going quicker, and it may take others a little longer. Either way, once a habit is formed, it’s hard to break. This can be good and bad, but in the exercise world, this is a good thing unless you are doing an exercise wrong over and over again. Maybe this is why New Year’s resolutions often fail. The resolution is either unattainable, or the resolute exerciser never forms the habit.
A sedentary lifestyle is a bad habit. You don’t have to be a great athlete or an every day exerciser or runner to break free from a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some of the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle:
- The Obvious Health Risks. Being sedentary is the opposite of being active. What happens with inactivity? Weight gain. Weight brings it’s own nasty problems, so a sedentary lifestyle has obvious health risks like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The more weight you gain the harder your heart has to work. Your heart is a muscle, and the less it is worked, the weaker it becomes.
- Loss of Flexibility. Blood doesn’t flow as freely through tight, bound muscles. Inflammation and pain rear their ugly heads as flexibility is lost. The more sitting you do, the more your hip flexors and low back become particularly tight. Your abs and glutes also become weaker.
- Lower Metabolism. A sedentary lifestyle means fewer calories burned. A lot of your body’s ability to break down fat simply shuts down.
- Osteoporosis. Here’s a not-so-obvious health risk. Your body and muscles are made to move. Your bones are made to bear the weight of movement to stay strong. A sedentary lifestyle or too sitting and inactivity can lead to osteoporosis.
- Increased Chances of Dementia, Depression, and Anxiety. The mind is more linked to the lack of moving than most realize, especially in the elderly. But you don’t have to become elderly before you feel the negative harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the mind.
So what can you do? Nobody can keep moving all day long, and you have to work. Unless you work in an environment that keeps you active, this will be tough. This is where you have a choice. Choose to form good habits:
- 1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- 2. Stand as often as you can at work.
- 3. Park further away from the door at work.
- 4. Walk the halls while on phone calls.
- 5. Exercise and stretch daily.
However you choose to get moving, just get moving. Avoid the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle and take control of your health and mind!