A number of alarming discoveries have been identified during recent studies into the link between physical inactivity and premature death. Now when you see the term ‘physical inactivity’ it is easy to immediately picture a middle-aged man in his pyjamas wasting a day watching television, however as these studies reveal that’s not always the case. The shocking truth is that although we may not realise it, more and more of us are becoming physically inactive.
Living in the age of technology where absolutely everything is at our finger tips we find ourselves not having to worry about getting up to collect the newspaper, walking out to check the mail box, going outside to see how the neighbours are, or even going to get the groceries. These little things that, coupled with a sedentary occupation, contribute to a physically inactive lifestyle. The tragic lie that has deceived so many is that an hour at the gym after work is enough to counteract an otherwise sedentary day.
Think about your work day and how much of it is spent sitting - at meetings, in front of a computer, talking on the phone, or driving a car? In the same way that our personal lives are channelling us towards physical inactivity so to are some of our work habits. The message from these studies is clear, sitting for hours at a time, regardless of what we do with the rest of our day, is a real risk to our health.
Highlighted in one of the studies was the fact that just as a pack-a-day smoker can’t compensate for their habit by running 10 kilometres on the weekend, we cannot expect to cancel out the effects of inactivity through a bout of high-intensity exercise. A study conducted at the University of Queensland found that on average, an hour of sitting slices 22 minutes off the average life expectancy of an adult over 25, which over the average lifespan reduces expectancy by 5 years.
But it is not all doom and gloom; there are ways to combat this wave of physical inactivity. Small things can be done everyday which will have a big effect on your overall activity level. Simple things like:
- Walking to go and see someone instead of calling
- When sitting for extended periods, stand up and stretch three times an hour
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Don’t park the car as close to your destination as possible, enjoy a short walk
- Make the most of your lunch break, go for a walk, do some yoga
- Stand up and move around the house/workplace as much as possible
Some more involved ways to tackle physical inactivity include:
- Ride your bicycle to work
- Walk the kids to school and home each day
- Enjoy a long walk through a local park
For more great ideas on getting active visit the Healthy Activities page.
Final thought – “We as humans were not designed to sit, our grandparents were not spending hours at the gym or fitness centre, they were simply active all day”.
Information Gathered from NewScientist Magazine | June 2013 Issue