Everyone knows that a sedentary lifestyle is not the most useful for maintaining good health. But in what cases can a person be called sedentary, by what criteria to check whether he leads a “sedentary” life and how serious is the danger of inactivity for cardiac activity? Let’s look into these issues together.
What is a sedentary lifestyle?
There is no objective gold standard for defining a “sedentary lifestyle.” According to most experts, a person should take at least 10 thousand steps per day. In this case, they talk about ideal physical activity, sufficient to prevent health risks caused by sedentary activity. However, according to the World Health Organization, from 60 to 85% of the world’s population does not comply with this rule. And this is what many doctors call one of the main causes of high mortality.
After analyzing the statistical data, American scientists came to the conclusion that modern man, compared to 1950, leads a 2 times less active life. Over the past 60 years, the number of “sedentary” professions has increased by 83%. Nowadays, the average person spends about 11 hours a day, and only 6.5% of people comply with the minimum requirements for physical activity. And this indicator seriously scares doctors and scientists.
What is the danger of hypodynamia
Back in 2005, American Dr. James A. Levin conducted a large-scale study on the negative consequences of a sedentary lifestyle for the human body. The results of scientific observations were published in the specialized journal Science. Dr. Levin identified the main dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and was one of the first to call inactivity “the main disease of modern man.” A little later, another American doctor John Hopkins structured the dangers of low physical activity.
In his opinion, lack of mobility can cause the following health problems:
- increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer;
- contribute to depression and anxiety;
- cause cardiac disorders;
- increase the risk of coronary heart disease;
- provoke the accumulation of excess weight and lead to obesity;
- reduce the tone and mass of skeletal muscles;
- lead to an increase in blood pressure and a violation of cholesterol metabolism.
According to the generalized estimates of various researchers, 6 out of 10 cases of coronary heart disease occur against the background of sedentary life. Seven out of ten cases of type 2 diabetes are also the “merit” of low motor activity. And even every tenth case of colon and breast cancer, according to experts, occur in people who lead a sedentary life. And according to the latest data, more people die every year due to inactivity than from smoking.
Sedentary life and the heart: what researchers found
Scientists suggest that in a few years cardiovascular diseases can cause 25 million deaths a year. The trend of increasing mortality from cardiac devices has been maintained for several years, although in developed countries the number of deaths has recently decreased slightly. But this is not due to improving the health of the population or increasing physical activity, but thanks to more advanced medicine. A 2010 WHO report stated that about 3.2 million people die every year due to a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, sedentary life ranked 4th in the ranking of the main causes of death.
Specialists from the National Center for Cardiovascular Disease Research (Madrid), together with colleagues from the Research Center on Human Aging (Boston, USA), conducted a number of clinical trials and found a direct link between a “sedentary” life and the health of the cardiovascular system. The study involved 929 volunteers. After a thorough study of their health status, it turned out that most sedentary people have a body mass index higher than normal. Sedentary patients were diagnosed with higher systolic blood pressure. Scientists found more lipids in their blood, including those from the dangerous cholesterol group. In addition, it turned out that the organisms of people whose work requires sedentary activity demonstrate insulin resistance, that is, they are at risk of developing diabetes mellitus.
And cardiologists from the Southwestern Utah Medical Center found that a sedentary lifestyle leads to more intense calcium deposition in the arteries, which in turn increases the risk of a heart attack. According to scientists, every extra hour of sitting increases the probability of calcification of the coronary artery by about 12%. On the contrary, reducing sitting time by 1-2 hours daily can have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Based on other studies, experts have found that people who sit for an average of 12 hours a day are 14% more at risk of cardiac diseases than those who spend sitting every day
In addition, scientists have found that the amount of C-reactive protein in the blood of people who sit in front of the TV for 4 hours or more every day sharply increases (almost 3 times higher than normal). Interestingly, the indicators of C-reactive protein usually grow against the background of the inflammatory process in the body. This knowledge prompted scientists to think that chronic inflammation is constantly occurring in the bodies of sedentary people. Experts also found that against the background of inactivity, the amount of the enzyme responsible for the destruction of fat cells in the blood can decrease to 80-90%. And it can also be considered as a dangerous factor for the heart muscle.
How to compensate for the lack of activity
It is widely believed that a healthy diet and aerobic exercise can compensate for the lack of physical activity during the day. This is partly true. But even a 30-minute intensive workout in the gym is not able to completely replace the 10 thousand steps that a person must take during the day.
In 2015, the journal Annals of Internal Medicine published a review of many studies on the impact of a sedentary lifestyle on heart health. It turned out that even after adjusting physical activity, the risk of developing heart disease, and with them cancer and type 2 diabetes persists for several more years.
Intensive physical activity in the form of training in the gym against the background of sedentary work can partially reduce the risks to the heart. But neither running nor other aerobic exercises can fully compensate for the harm that a 10-hour daily sitting brings to the heart muscle. It is important to change your habits and move throughout the day. Scientists advise people whose work is related to sitting to take a break every 20 minutes and walk for at least 2 minutes.
There are many ways to increase your physical activity during the day. One of the simplest is to abandon the elevator in favor of the stairs. In addition, during telephone conversations, try not to sit, but to walk around the house or office. Strictly limit the time allotted for watching TV or sitting at the computer. Make it a rule to take a walk every day for at least a few minutes. And to make it easier to follow these rules, find like–minded people – it’s much more interesting to rebuild in a new way with friends.
The work of most modern people requires a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us spend at least 8 hours a day at the computer, which has an adverse effect not only on the spine, but also on the work of the heart. Modern life quickly rebuilds a person to a “sedentary” mode, creating additional health risks. But it’s real to help yourself. It is only important not to forget the ancient wisdom that life is movement.