Healthy older women walking outside

The human body was designed to be in motion. However, work, injuries, chronic medical conditions, and just plain laziness often lead people to adopt a sedentary lifestyle instead.

The sedentary lifestyle risks are great, as a lack of physical activity leads to the onset of a wide variety of physical and mental ailments.

This article will discuss what constitutes a sedentary lifestyle, sedentary lifestyle effects, and healthy lifestyle tips to be more active. With a little knowledge, encouragement, and accountability, sedentary individuals can take back control of their health and prevent significant health issues from forming or getting worse.

What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle?

Being sedentary means sitting or lying down for a vast majority of the day without getting up to stretch, exercise, or just move around one’s environment.1,2 People who live sedentary lives get very little, if any, exercise, and any activity performed is low-intensity.3 A moderate level of activity is approximately two and a half hours per week of moderate intensity exercise. Finally, a high level of activity involves working out until the heart rate is heightened, the breathing rate is rapid, and sweat breaks out.

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Sedentary Lifestyle Effects

The risks of a sedentary lifestyle are often focused on being overweight and obese, but there are many other health issues that can also result from sitting too long throughout the day.4 For example, a lack of physical activity has been linked to certain types of cancer and increases a person’s risk of anxiety and depression.5 It can also be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Recent studies suggest that living a sedentary lifestyle can be just as harmful to a person’s health as smoking cigarettes.6,7,8

Sedentary Lifestyle Solutions

It can be very difficult to start being active again once a person gets used to living a sedentary lifestyle. Many people’s jobs require them to sit in front of a computer all day, but office workers can still get up to take breaks and move around throughout the day.2,7,8 Instead of taking the elevator to the office, take the stairs. And consider using a sit-to-stand workstation to add variety to working positions. While at home, some sedentary lifestyle solutions include getting up to do chores or exercise sets during television commercial breaks, starting a backyard garden for a fun outdoor activity, and going for walks around the neighborhood with the family dog.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

For individuals who suffer from arthritis pain, getting active can be much more feasible while using topical pain relief creams, like JointFlex. When starting to exercise again or increase the amount of exercise per day, always start small and gradually ramp up activity to prevent muscle strains and joint pain. Also, there are so many different ways to exercise that have nothing to do with going to the gym and running on a treadmill.9 Some of the best healthy lifestyle tips involve getting outside more often to get the body moving and enjoy the beauty of nature. The important thing is to find a type of enjoyable exercise that is more of a joy than a chore, and then to stick with it while throwing in some occasional variety for an extra challenge and sustainable motivation.

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1. Health risks of an inactive lifestyle. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from
2. Move more every day to combat a sedentary lifestyle. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from
3. A healthier you: Chapter 4-Where to start. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from
4. Barnes, A. S. & Coulter, S. A. (2012). Obesity and sedentary lifestyles: Risk for cardiovascular disease in women. Texas Heart Institute Journal, 39, 224-227. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from National Institute of Biotechnology Information
5. Risks of physical inactivity. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from,P00218.
6. Kerr, J., Anderson, C, & Lippman, S. M. (2017 August 1). Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, diet, and cancer: an update and emerging new evidence. The Lancet Oncology, 18, PE457-E471. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from
7. Sitting vs smoking: What’s the scale of the risk? The One Brief. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from
8. The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking. Better Health Channel. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from
9. Participating in activities you enjoy. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from