In a world where advances in technology increasingly hold us back from being active, health risks increase.
Medical Advisor: Alexandra Osorio Guáqueta, Physician, Specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Jobs that require us to stay seated all day in front of a monitor, combined with the screen time we spend during our leisure time on different devices (cell phones, tablets, televisions), all take away from playing sports, doing activities outdoors and being active in general.
The problem is the effect a sedentary lifestyle can have on us: physical inactivity is the fourth risk factor for mortality in the world, and the chances of dying are 30% higher among people who are physically inactive than those who exercise. It is therefore important to know what the effects of being inactive are on the body and to be committed to making physical activity a lifestyle.
How physical inactivity affects the body:
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, the risk of a thrombus in the pulmonary artery is twice as high in women who spend a lot of time sitting than in women who are physically active.
A lack of physical activity, together with poor eating habits, predisposes people to becoming overweight and obese due to too little calories being burned; this increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Obesity causes pains in the joints, hips, knees and ankles to appear that can be exacerbated if the person’s weight is not managed with exercise and a healthy diet.
Daily exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, a substance that improves mood and helps with having thoughts of well-being, decreasing the risk of stress and depression.
Spending long days at work sitting, having an unbalanced diet, or doing some type of sports or recreational activity predisposes people to obesity, which increases the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks.
Over the years, humans have lost muscle mass. Exercising daily and maintaining a healthy diet helps keep the muscles healthy and keeps the metabolism functioning well.
30 minutes, at least 3 times a week, is the recommended amount of time to do exercise, states the WHO.
The more active, the greater the benefit
This is not about signing up to go to a gym or playing a sport. The idea is to get moving, to include physical activity in your daily life in small ways, to find excuses to get out of your chair and look for recreational activities that allow you to be active. As you become more active, you can increase the intensity of the exercise, which can help to improve your physical condition.
(May also interest you: The consequences of physical inactivity on the body)
Take the first steps to get moving:
- For those who have not been active for a long time, you should begin slowly and increase the intensity of the activity gradually.
- Set realistic goals. Start with small changes in your daily life that can develop into habits.
- At work, do something to move your body each hour, stand up during meetings and, if you can, walk while talking on the phone.
- Leave your car further away than necessary or, if you use public transportation, get off one stop early.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator, for at least a few floors. Go on short walks when you are on a break.
- While watching television, take advantage of this time to stretch or exercise while lying down.
- Go for walks around your apartment complex, neighborhood or at your closest park.
- Exercise with the support of a professional that can explain proper form.
- When starting to jog, swim, ride a bike, or do any other exercise, the recommendation is to first learn a workout routine with a trained professional in order to continue doing it on your own.
- Warm up and stretch your muscles before exercising.
- It is important to raise your heart rate while exercising. If you able to talk without a problem, this means that you are not working hard enough.
- Use proper sportswear, shoes with an air cushion and, if possible, insoles for high-impact activity