8 daily habits to stay active and avoid harmful effects of sedentary lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle is basically a kind of lifestyle where a person does not do regular amounts of physical activity in daily life. This can however put one at risk of many lifestyle diseases. Experts talk about daily habits that can help one stay active.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle or adopting a daily routine that involves too much sitting or lying down with very little or no exercise can land you in serious health trouble and put you at risk of several chronic diseases and even severe complications in case of Covid-19. A recent study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine aimed to determine the association between physical activity and outcomes of Covid-19 infection. The study used data from Kaiser Permanente Southern California adult patients who had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis between January 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021. The study found that there were protective associations of physical activity for adverse Covid-19 outcomes across demographic and clinical characteristics. The study suggests that public health leaders should add physical activity to pandemic control strategies. (Also read: Sitting for too long? 5 exercises to reverse ill effects of prolonged sitting)
What is sedentary lifestyle
"A sedentary lifestyle is basically a kind of lifestyle where a person does not do regular amounts of physical activity in daily life. Extended periods of inactivity may retard metabolism and weaken the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and break down fat," says Dr. Santosh Kumar Agrawal, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Marengo QRG Hospital Faridabad.
Dangers of sedentary lifestyle
Sedentary lifestyle can affect lung function and may lead to severe symptoms in case of Covid-19. Dr Agarwal says sedentary lifestyle not only raises your risk of landing in ICU but also adversely affects your survival rate if compared to those leading active lifestyles.
"Obesity impacts the outcome in patients and may be lethal in case of covid-19. People who have a sedentary lifestyle are usually overweight or obese. Obesity/sedentary lifestyle leads to poor lung capacity which may lead to severe symptoms in covid-19. Also, people with sedentary lifestyle have multiple comorbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension which are other risk factors for severe covid-19 infection. Inactivity and sedentary lifestyles may also slow recovery," says Dr Agarwal.
"A sedentary lifestyle is associated with many conditions like obesity, diabetes and lowered immunity. These disorders predispose an individual to severe Covid symptoms. Both obesity and diabetes are known high risk factors in Covid, and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Other habits like smoking, alcohol intake which are often past of a sedentary lifestyle also result in weaker lungs and decreased immune function with more symptoms of COVID," says Dr. R V S Bhalla, Director & HOD of Internal Medicine Department, Fortis Hospital.
The many health condition that are attributed to a sedentary lifestyle are obesity, sleep apnea syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, various musculoskeletal disorders, coronary artery disease, and polycystic ovarian disease.
Tips to stay active
To stay active, it is very important to develop healthy habits, suggested by Dr Bhalla and Dr Agarwal.
1. Regular exercise: Exercising for 45 minutes per day for at least 5 days a week is beneficial for overall health. This can be moderate intensity aerobic exercise like brisk walking, running, jogging, cycling or swimming. Adding resistance training twice a week is also recommended. Setting up a schedule of daily activity and following it religiously would help in maintaining a regular exercise pattern.
2. Taking stairs instead of lifts or parking your vehicle one or two blocks before your office and walking rest of the way can also help you move more on a regular basis. Climbing stairs may get your heart pumping and boost your muscle, bone, joint, and lung health. Walking is associated with several health benefits like lowered risk of heart disease, enhanced immune function and reduced stress and blood pressure levels.
3. Avoid sitting at desk for more than one hour at a stretch. Get up and move around then sit down. This will ensure your muscles do not turn stiff and also increase your daily step count.
4. Various exercises can be done while sitting on your chair or during a two-minute break in the office. Short spurts of activity help to increase our metabolism and the effect lasts for many hours.
5. Avoid overeating especially sugar-laden treats and sweetened beverages. One must add healthy vegetables and fruits to their diet. Have a well-balanced diet.
6. Avoid alcohol and smoking.
7. Exercise can be done at any time, morning or evening, but should be avoided 1/2 hours past meal
8. Standing when you can as it may help strengthen your muscles and burn extra calories. You can try to stand while you are on calls, watching TV, or just folding the laundry.