7 ways to counter effects of a sedentary lifestyle

Living a sedentary lifestyle is becoming more common and can contribute to a host of negative effects.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, physical inactivity can contribute to:
  • Physical inactivity may increase the risks of certain cancers.
  • Physical inactivity may contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • Physical inactivity has been shown to be a risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases.
  • People who engage in more physical activity are less likely to develop coronary heart disease.
  • People who are more active are less likely to be overweight or obese.
  • Sitting too much may cause a decrease in skeletal muscle mass.
  • Physical inactivity is linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
According to Lifespan Fitness, "sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950 and physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of our workforce, which is 50% less than in 1950."
With sedentary lifestyles affecting our health, and with even more individuals working in sedentary jobs, it's important to counter these effects.

What are some ways you can counter a sedentary lifestyle or job?

1. Start moving!

Start small and then go from there. There's no need to start running a marathon when you can start by walking around your building, strolling in the park, or just taking laps at the office every hour. It's important to keep moving throughout the day, even if it's a 15 minute walk, to help keep yourself from becoming sedentary.

2. Find something that gets you outside.

Want a puppy? Adopt and get outside with a fun companion. If not, you can still get outside and try an activity like biking, swimming, or a sport. It doesn't have to be a lot at first, but fresh air and disconnecting while you're exercising will help with your mental equilibrium.

3. Do something that makes you happy.

Even something like shopping involves walking and moving around. What is something you love to do - maybe photography, listing to books on tape, or gardening - that will get you moving? Find something your passionate about and use that to help spur your movement.

4. Make time for relaxation to decompress mentally.

Try getting a massage or listening to some soothing music on the way home from work. Work relaxation into your routine so that - like exercise - it becomes something you do without even thinking about it.

5. Stretch or take yoga.

Invest in a foam roller, yoga mat, and time to actively stretch your muscles. After staring at a screen for 8 hours at a time, or remaining seated for that long, muscles begin to tense up and need to be stretched. Combine foam rolling and yoga for increased muscle release.

6. Join an active group.

Need a partner? Try joining a larger group to keep yourself accountable to new fitness and wellness goals. Whether it's a rec league, photography club, or another Meetup, find a group of cohorts that enjoy coming together and begin active.

7. Workout.

Find a workout program you enjoy, hop on a treadmill, whatever you would like to do - just get started!