Have you ever wondered if there are any implications to being sedentary? Have you ever felt like the more you sit around, the worse you feel in all areas of your life? Do you want to know what connection is between a sedentary lifestyle and unhappiness?
With everything going around in the world, people are more sedentary than ever, like people gravitating towards remote jobs. Fewer jobs involve physical effort, and people mostly sit in an office chair from nine to five. There is less and less time in the average individual’s life to engage in physical activities. It is hard to find time to schedule a gym session between all your responsibilities. But this lifestyle is very unhealthy, not only from a physical standpoint but also from a mental one. So, why is sedentarism so bad, and what can you do to avoid being negatively impacted by it?
What Is Sedentarism?
Sedentarism is a behavior consisting of lower levels of physical activity. Any activity involving sitting, reclining, or lying down is considered sedentarism. Most people live a sedentary lifestyle, as they cannot meet specific physical activity guidelines. For example, the American guidelines suggest that adults engage in 150 minutes of physical activity each week to be considered active.
A paper from 2017 by the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network shows that only 21 percent of adults meet the necessary guidelines. And, only five percent of people do more than thirty minutes of physical activity per day.
Many people fall into the trap of being sedentary because they have the illusion of being active. They have busy days filled with work, but that doesn’t inherently mean they are active. If you wake up, drive to work, and spend your day sitting at a desk, you are still sedentary. While you might be intellectually active, you aren’t physically active.
6 Ways A Sedentary Lifestyle Can Cause Unhappiness
So, how is a less active lifestyle related to your physical and mental wellbeing? And what can you do to become more active in your daily life?
1. A Sedentary Lifestyle Places A Strain On Your Physical Health
Many people tend to brush off the risk associated with being sedentary. As long as you have a healthy diet, being a little sedentary can’t be that bad, right? Being passive and sitting around all day long can affect your health in the long term.
Inactivity and metabolism are closely intertwined. Because of this, sedentary lifestyles impair the body’s ability to break down fat and regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This outcome means that sedentary people are at a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer. Studies have found that long periods of inactivity are one of the causes of early death.
Besides the long-term effects, there are also adverse effects that you can feel daily. You will burn fewer calories, thus gaining weight. Your bones get weaker, and you lose muscle strength and endurance. Besides that, your immune system weakens. Overall, you will feel unwell more often than not. Feeling physically weak is bound to make you feel unhappy with yourself.
To avoid encountering these issues, you need to start getting into shape. Especially essential exercises are cardiovascular exercises, such as running, cycling, or even walking. Strength training can also be beneficial to get you out of this sedentary lifestyle. Research suggests that three 30-minute runs and two 30-minute strength-training sessions per week are enough to meet the guidelines for an active lifestyle.
2. Makes You Feel Unmotivated
It’s fascinating that, no matter how much you might want to get moving, you often feel like you can’t. Getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task most days. The human brain favors sedentarism over more dynamic behaviors.
The brain feels the need to conserve energy, and passive tasks need little to know energy. On the other hand, active behaviors need a much more considerable amount of energy. The more time you spend being sedentary, the more energy the brain will consume to get you out of that rut. Once you give in to the desire to become a couch potato, that can be detrimental to your motivation to do things. Your brain will fight you, trying to keep you from getting up and consuming energy.
This creates a vicious circle. You are a little sedentary, which makes you unmotivated, which leads you to be even more sedentary, and so on. And losing mot spreads to all areas of your life.
To avoid falling into this rut, you need to make sure your schedule is also busy and always involves physical activity. Start walking to work if that’s possible. Make a gym membership and start going a few times a week. Force yourself to start doing things. Once you start taking care of your body, your brain will get used to consuming energy, thus allowing you to be motivated once again.
3. A Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Your Memory
Many people would never associate sitting too long with a decrease in brain health. Most people don’t even think about their brain health anyways. But the truth is your brain health can take a toll because of sedentarism.
While dementia and other memory issues are strongly correlated to genetic factors, studies have found that a lack of exercise can have a similar effect. A study was done on more than 16,000 adults over 65, and researchers found that lack of exercise increased the risk of developing dementia.
In addition to this research, a study conducted at UCLA showed similar effects. Researchers recruited 35 people and gave each person an MRI scan. This scan provided a detailed look at the medial temporal lobe, or MTL, involved in memory formation. The more inactive people were, the thinner the brain regions involved in constructing new memories became. In the long run, being unable to remember certain things will affect your general mood.
So far, the only solution to this issue is increased physical activity. Following the guidelines provided by health, organizations are the only way to avoid a cognitive decline.
4. Keeps You Away From Society
While it might seem like you can stay connected to people from the comfort of your own home, that’s not entirely true. The more inactive you are, the less likely you will keep in touch with people.
A sedentary person does the bare minimum daily. Because of this, their interactions are limited to work colleagues, family, and immediate friends. If you stay at home all day, it can be difficult to create new meaningful relationships with people.
The circle of people you know stays the same. You don’t have the opportunity to meet new people, and you become isolated. Even the people who are closest to you will drift further and further away. If you never see your friends face to face, your bond will weaken.
To make sure you have enough social interaction, you need to get out in the world. You need to see people face to face; you need to have common activities. The best way to ensure you don’t become isolated is to start being active. Try new hobbies, especially if they involve physical activity. Maybe pick up a sport, or get a running buddy. By putting yourself out into the world, you also allow yourself the opportunity to meet new people and create new connections.
5. A Sedentary Lifestyle Increases Stress Levels
While research is limited on this topic, the body of evidence suggests that a sedentary lifestyle is linked to higher stress levels.