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Published on August 13, 2021

What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle And How To Stop It

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What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle And How To Stop It

Studies show that people who are more active have higher incomes, better brain function and get more love’n than those who are sedentary.

Yes, you read that right. What is a sedentary lifestyle and how can you get rid of this you ask?

Read on to find out the surprising answers to this question and much more.

What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle And Are You Sedentary?

Sure, most of us play around on our phones from time to time, spend some time sitting at work and catch a few hours of television or reading at night, but that doesn’t make us sedentary, right? Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes, it does…

The official definition of a sedentary lifestyle per the CDC, classifies activities in a sitting or reclining posture requiring low levels of energy expenditure for at least 6 hours a day as being sedentary. In other words, if all the hours you spend at a computer, on your phone, watching tv, reading and commuting here and there adds up to 6 hours or more, you are indeed living a sedentary lifestyle.

At this point you might be thinking that okay, you do sit quite a lot but you workout so you aren’t really sedentary. Think again. Even if you exercise the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (per the CDC and American Heart Association) you are not immune to the negative implications that Sitting Disease (as it’s known in the medical community) can bring.[1]

How in the World Did This Happen?

The short answer: Technology and capitalism happened.

Many of us don’t even realize how many hours we actually sit during the day. Our society has gradually become more sedentary over the years – especially at work, with an 83% increase in sedentary jobs since 1950,[2] and with an increased average sitting time by an hour – in just the past 10 years. Along with our jobs becoming much more based in sitting we Americans are also working longer and longer hours. So much so that the U.S. has been deemed the most overworked developed nation in the world.[3]

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All of this culminates in the average American sitting approximately 12 hours a day, and the average office worker sitting an astounding 15 hours a day. That’s more than double the amount of time it takes to be classified as sedentary!

Is Inactivity Really That Bad?

The short answer: Definitely yes. The more inactive you are over time the more likely you are to feel like dog poo, develop disease, feel depressed (or anxious) and die much sooner than you would have otherwise.

Most information out there informs you about all the bad things that will happen if you are sedentary. Kinda like what I’ve already mentioned. Here’s the deal – facts don’t lie. It’s some pretty scary stuff, and honestly it’s enough to make me type this standing up. But for many people this tactic obviously isn’t working as the number of people suffering from disease and death associated with being inactive continues to grow literally by the day.

So today we are going to try a new tactic. We’ll still talk about the facts associated with inactivity, but we are also going to talk about what you can gain just by being slightly more active. From there we will help you construct an individualized plan to most effectively help you be more active.

First, some of the scary stuff:

  • Physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality. Read that twice and let it sink in. Just sitting there is the 4th leading risk factor for your death.
  • Being sedentary kills more people every year than HIV, and increases your death rate by 71%.[4]
  • Sitting (or lying) too much more than doubles your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, osteoporosis, depression and cognitive impairment.[5]
  • For older adults, a lack of activity can put their risk of developing dementia equal to that of adults who are genetically predisposed to the disease.[6]
  • A sedentary lifestyle changes the structure of your brain associated with memory formation.

How Active Do You Have to Be?

The short answer: More than you probably want to if you enjoy sitting for hours on end, but not really that much.

Basically, you need to take every chance you can to walk, stand up and move around. A few minutes every half hour is ideal, but at least every 2 hours.

The CDC and American Heart Association have issued the following recommendations for how much activity people should strive for on a weekly basis for adults (daily for kids):[7]

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  • For adults: exercise 150 minutes/week
  • For school aged children: exercise >60 min/day
  • For preschool aged children: exercise 180 min/day

Why You Need to Get Rid of a Sedentary Lifestyle

First, you will have a much better chance of living longer. I feel like that should be enough of an incentive, but alas, history reveals that it is not.

Not only do you have increased odds of living longer, but you also have a better shot of feeling good during that time, sleeping better, not getting sick and feeling happier. All good, right? Many people know this, but yet here we are – still sitting ourselves to death.

Let’s take a time out and be brutally honest with each other, shall we?

If moving around is not your thing (or you are having difficulty making it a priority) then you are going to need to dig deep and find something that is near and dear to your heart to help you kick this into gear.

Many times, making changes in our lives comes down to one thing – motivation. What motivates you?

Yes, your back hurts. If I asked you to stand up and walk around for a few minutes every half hour you’d probably defer to that reason not to do it. But if I offered you $1,000 to do it for one day then you can bet that most people would suddenly feel like it was well worth the discomfort.

I suggest a raw and honest sit down (stand up?) conversation with yourself about what makes you happy, how you’ve been successful in the past, why this new goal is important to you and what changes need to occur for your goal to be a reality.

Off the beaten path motivators and benefits of being more active:

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  • Money. Studies show that people who are physically more active make more money.[8] Nobody is certain which comes first, the chicken or the egg, but nonetheless there is a correlation worth standing up and moving around to investigate.
  • Healthier sex life. In a survey of over 1,000 people, Freeletics reported that 34% of people who workout have sex several times a week,[9] compared with just 15% of those who never workout. It also stands to reason that if you are more active you will have more stamina for this activity – And probably be better at it.
  • Being smarter. It is a well researched fact that being active sharpens our focus and improves memory.[10] So whether you just want to show off on trivia night, or apply your intellect to your job, getting moving is a tool in your success box!

This is in no way a complete list, but you can see that there are some good reasons to be motivated by other than being alive and healthy.

Now that you might have a little extra something to strive toward, let’s talk about some potential ways of getting you there!

How to Get Rid of the Sedentary Lifestyle And Be More Active

There are literally a million ways to be more active. Here is a list to get your brain thinking of possibilities.

Critical coaching moment here: Some people prefer to shoot down ideas, noting why things WON’T work for them. This is the easy way out. I challenge you to ask yourself: How can I make this work in my own life? Think outside the box, change perspective and get results!

  1. Walk whenever you are able. With a friend, an audiobook or whatever.
  2. Stand up as often as you can.
  3. Take the stairs.
  4. Chores count! Gardening, mowing the lawn, washing dishes, vacuuming.
  5. Play with you kids/pets.
  6. Do a few exercises at the kitchen sink.
  7. Go shopping.
  8. Join a class/group or start something informal in your neighborhood.
  9. Make it a non-negotiable part of your day (just like brushing your teeth (hopefully) or going to the bathroom.
  10. Set reminders on your phone to get up.
  11. Tell other people so they can help hold you accountable.
  12. Swim/play/exercise in the water. Or at least stand there.
  13. Dance to music.
  14. Play a video game standing up.
  15. Backyard games.
  16. Yoga
  17. Yardwork (we took a stone wall apart piece by piece and then built a fire pit and bench – it was actually very fun and a great workout!)
  18. Tennis (my personal favorite)
  19. Shoot baskets
  20. Stand up to play cards (or just when it’s your turn)

Now we need to check in with science to see how we can construct new habits so they are sustainable.

Making New Habits

We’ve all had aspirations of changing our lives and then fallen flat when we were unable to incorporate something new into our daily existence. Many books have been written about forming habits, but here are a few tips that scientist Katy Milkman (author of How to Change) says make new habits stick:

1. Tie your new habit to an existing one.

If you already stand up to brush your teeth at the sink, then try doing a few marches or heel raises while you stand there. If you already walk the dog in the morning, do a few squats at the end of the walk. Or walk up and down the stairs an extra time when you are retrieving something from upstairs – literally anything that makes you move.

2. Make it fun/pair your new habit with an activity you enjoy.

If you don’t love walking, but do love your friends – try walking several mornings a week with a friend or neighbor you don’t get to talk to very often. Or allow yourself to watch a soapy show on Netflix while riding a stationary bike, or even while you stand up and wash dishes.

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3. Turn it into a competition.

This is partly why Fitbits have been so popular as it pits you in competition with yourself and the sometimes elusive 20,000 steps. This same principle can be used at workplaces encouraging their employees to be more active. If you enjoy competition and want to take it to the next level, join a local softball or tennis league.

4. Relate it to something you are passionate about.

Whatever is important to you- make it work for your goal of being more active. Passionate about helping animals? Volunteer to walk dogs at the local shelter. Love video games? Play them standing up. Be creative!

5. Start with a clean slate.

Studies show that starting a new habit on some kind of designated “fresh start day” appears to encourage people to stick with it more effectively.[11] So whether it’s New Year’s Day, the start of a new season, Monday or simply the next morning – give yourself a fresh start.

6. Set yourself up for success with small changes.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Make small and very achievable goals for yourself. I can’t emphasize that enough – small and achievable. Achieving goals releases dopamine (a pleasurable chemical) into our brain. This is an important key in habit development.

Bottom Line

I think you are ready to put your plan into action!

Find your motivation, pick some manageable activities, set some achievable goals and most importantly be patient with yourself. You got this! You might just live a longer, happier, smarter and wealthier life.

Featured photo credit: Toàn Nghĩa via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kat Truman

Life Coach at The Power of Change, licensed Physical Therapist.

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Published on December 15, 2021

What Supplements Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy?

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What Supplements Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy?

Having quality nutrition every day is key to staying healthy and fit. Many people wonder if taking supplements is needed to supply their needs. The answer to this question lies in a lot of factors. Here’s the thing: there is no black and white approach when it comes to taking supplements, but if you’ve been wondering whether you need supplements or not, I will help clarify some of your concerns.

Sometimes, having too many options of supplements on the market can be overwhelming. If you’re still asking yourself what supplements to take, then keep reading.

What Supplements Should I Take?

When you reach for that bottle of vitamins or fish oil, for example, you wonder if any of these will work and if they are safe. Well, the main thing you should be asking yourself is if you need them in the first place. And the truth is, there are tons of supplements for different needs.

Our body requires all the necessary nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fat, and fiber every day. The best source for these nutrients is real food. Nothing beats having a balanced lifestyle that includes quality whole foods. But the reality is that most people are not meeting the minimum requirements of certain nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals.

Even with fiber, people struggle to eat enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for instance. That’s why you can see many symptoms like digestive issues and lack of energy.

Supplements come into the picture to help your body meet all the necessary nutrients. They also help avoid any deficiency. Supplements can even strengthen your body and enhance your metabolism. There are many benefits of taking supplements. The answer to whether you’ll need to take them depends on many other things.

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Should I Invest in Supplements?

Before I suggest a list of the types of supplements you should take, this is what you should bear in mind. Supplements are just an aid to a healthy eating lifestyle. In other words, you should always aim to eat healthier, vary your plate, and have enough whole foods in your diet. That is crucial to ensure that you are meeting at least the minimum nutrient requirements.

You shouldn’t invest in supplements to get your main nutrition. Always focus on quality foods before you supplement your diet. Now, supplements can reinforce what you’re lacking in your eating lifestyle. Because of that, I love to always have some sort of multivitamin complex.

In general, if you have a proper eating lifestyle, it’s not mandatory to invest in supplements. However, there are specific cases, for example, pregnant women, in which we recommend taking supplements. Always make sure that you check with your doctor or nutritionist before taking any form of supplement.

Why Do I Need Supplements? Which Ones Are Important?

Below are the most common reasons why you may need to take supplements and which ones you should try.

1. Restricting Eating Lifestyles

As a nutritionist, I rarely recommend anyone going through a restrictive diet. In fact, I discourage it altogether. The best thing is that you embrace a balanced eating lifestyle since this is the way to ensure you stay at a healthy weight and have a good metabolism. That’s the reason why I don’t like removing entire food groups from people’s diets.

However, I also understand diverse eating lifestyles. For example, there is a vast majority of people that are actively changing to a vegan lifestyle. If you’re a raw vegan or strictly plant-based, you may need to supplement certain vitamins. Because animal foods like dairy, certain meats, and poultry have essential vitamins and minerals like B12, iron, and folic acid, then you may have less intake of these in plant-based foods. There is much debate in this area related to plant-based diets, but basically, experts recommend taking supplements.

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As I said about restrictive diets, eliminating entire food groups can cause you to suffer certain problems like lack of energy, constipation, less muscle, and lower brain function.[1] Before you try any type of diet out there, make sure you have a better relationship with food and check with a health professional. Overall, a good multivitamin complex should be good enough to supply all your needs. Go for the ones that provide vitamin B complex and minerals like iron, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

2. Reinforcing Nutrient Intake

It’s true that eating the right foods is essential for your body. Apart from that, certain processed foods, like dairy, cereals, and others are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals. Take advantage of these types of healthy foods as well.

If you feel like you could lack a certain nutrient, then taking multivitamins is a good option. Not only because it will help you meet your goals, but it will also ensure that your body has more energy and better performance. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with taking a supplement to reinforce your healthy eating lifestyle. Apart from multivitamins, you could also take fiber supplements in case you struggle with digestive issues or you feel like you’re not eating enough plant-based foods.

3. Special Conditions

There are certain cases or stages in life when you may need to take supplements. For instance, pregnant women require higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, like iron and folic acid.[2] Elderly people should also consume some supplements since their body absorbs less nutrients compared to younger people.[3] That’s why certain protein drinks, multivitamins, and omega-3 are prescribed to this age group. Also, people who have certain chronic health problems or underwent surgery may need supplements.

Women going through menopause are also often required to take supplements.[4] If you belong to this age group, you may need to talk to your doctor about supplements to balance off your hormone levels. Remember that not all supplements are made equally, and some ingredients may have side effects. This is especially true if you’re on prescriptions. Always check first.

4. Fitness Goals

Who doesn’t want to boost their fitness results? People that train at the gym often ask if they need to have protein supplements. It all goes down to the basics: eat healthily and put that as a priority. However, you can also take supplements based on your goals.

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Whether you want to burn some fat, build muscle, or are an athlete, supplements can reinforce and speed up your results. But here’s the thing: you should always do it the right way and not rely only on supplements for fitness results. Everything goes hand in hand, and it’s a matter of balance and moderation.

Now, here are some supplements you can take to improve your muscle performance, growth, and fat burn:[5]

  • Whey protein
  • L-glutamine
  • Branch chain amino acids
  • Multi-vitamin complex and fish oil
  • MCT oil

These supplements, coupled with a good diet, help provide steady muscle development, shed fat, and keep a healthy metabolism for better results. You have to be active to see their benefits, though. This will ensure your body is using up the nutrients effectively and not stored as fat.

There are some other great supplements made to boost energy levels and increase muscle efficiency. Here are some examples:[6]

  • Guaraná
  • Gingko biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Creatine
  • Citrulline

These are natural energy boosters. Caffeine also does a good job when it comes to improving your energy levels. These supplements should be a compliment to a healthy diet, or if you struggle with low energy performance when working out.

Speaking of energy, sometimes, simple lifestyle habits like sleeping better can make a huge difference in how you feel. So, make sure you are also working on these other areas of your life and not relying exclusively on supplements.

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5. Beauty and Self-Care

You can also find supplements for personal care. Some help to enhance your skin health, others are for hair and nails growth.

For example, collagen and multivitamins are commonly used for beauty and skincare. Because collagen is our skin’s main protein, we need to ensure our body has enough to stay glowing and healthy. Collagen also has powerful effects on skin beauty and anti-aging. You can easily add this protein to your drinks and foods to enhance your own skin’s collagen.[7]

If you didn’t know, adding collagen to your regimen after you’re 25 can help slow down the effects of aging. At that age, our skin produces less collagen, and we lose skin elasticity. Therefore, it’s a nice addition to your supplements and skincare routine.

Final Thoughts

You should always aim to have a healthy eating regimen before thinking about what supplements you need. Second, assess what are your lifestyle and health goals. Also, determine if your health and/or fitness condition requires you to add supplements.

Remember that your objective is to get enough protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If your diet lacks any of these, look for an assessment on how to get these nutrients.

More Tips on Taking Supplements

Featured photo credit: Mika Baumeister via unsplash.com

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Reference

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