Living a more active life – but how?

It is known that everyday exercise or physical activity is good for the body. Being active has an effect on muscles, heart and lungs, and reduces the risk of herniated discs, for example. These benefits can be achieved not only by exercising regularly, but also by being active throughout the day.

The importance of avoiding permanent sedentary activities

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that physical inactivity is linked to 3.2 million deaths worldwide each year. For this reason, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking, jogging, or swimming is recommended for adults. Any exercise in your daily life that makes you sweat and takes your breath away is, strictly speaking, an important factor in overall health. The recommendation further states that children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. These activities are reported to reduce not only the risk of disc herniation, but also the risk of other non-communicable diseases such as breast and colon cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies warn that continued inactivity can cause health problems; even in people who exercise regularly.

Avoid sedentary activities

Sedentary activities are activities that require low energy expenditure. At rest, the body’s organs require a certain amount of energy, also known as basal metabolic rate, to perform their vital functions. Every movement, gesture, and action requires additional energy consumption.
The amount of energy expended in an activity can be expressed as metabolic energy equivalent in multiples of metabolic rate or rate of physical activity. Stagnant activities are defined as activities with less than 1.5 MET, causing the metabolic rate to be only slightly higher than the energy expenditure at rest. These are activities that involve very little physical activity.
However, movements in daily life such as fidgeting, changing posture, and maintaining muscle tone, which are repeated in daily life and are referred to as “spontaneous physical activity” (SPA), differ between individuals. Individuals with higher SPA expend more energy when they move more during the day. Changes between spontaneous body movements indicate a difference in energy expenditure of ± 15% between individuals. People prefer activities that require less energy, such as standing still in an elevator, rather than walking during the day. There are many opportunities at work, home, and travel that promote less mobility and make people lazy.

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Health risks of sitting too long

Prolonged inactivity is associated with obesity. Many studies show that young people who watch more TV tend to consume more food. A sedentary lifestyle with constant sitting may be the reason why, for example, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes or some cancers develop. It is also known that inactivity disrupts bone mineralization, reduces bone density, and causes muscle disorders such as deep vein thrombosis and back pain.
Avoid being inactive for long periods of time to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases. Even small movements use more energy than standing still.

Reduce time in front of screens

Television, game consoles, computer games, surfing the Internet, and social media can be very attractive leisure activities that contribute to a stagnant lifestyle. In the studies, it was found that teenagers spend 9 hours a day without exercising too much. The study found that 60% of adolescents watch more than two hours of television a day on their weekends. Children can be motivated through behavioral interventions, such as encouraging them to keep the TV off.
Given the evolving environment and technology, sedentary lifestyles are predicted to increase. In addition to moderate-intensity physical activity, it is also very important to take a break from sitting time during light physical activities. In the future, we may see workspaces adapted for more movement, active work corners, or interactive lessons in schools. Perhaps new technology will encourage people to move even more.

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