Sedentary lifestyles

A sedentary lifestyle is one with no or irregular physical activity and an excessive amount of daily sitting.

In addition to the recommended levels of physical activity, people also need to reduce sedentary behaviours. Being sedentary means sitting or lying down for extended periods when awake.

Behaviours

Sedentary behaviours include:

  • at school or work – sitting at a desk
  • at home – watching TV, playing computer games, being on the internet
  • travelling – driving a car, sitting in a train or bus

People are more sedentary now than in the past due to changes to our general lifestyle. For example, fewer people have manual jobs, more people own cars and drive, and technology has affected almost everything from housework to leisure.

Risks

People's risk of developing some health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, increases if they have a sedentary lifestyle. Recent research suggests that a sedentary lifestyle can be harmful even if a person meets the recommended levels of physical activity. Below are some of the most typical health risks from leading a sedentary lifestyle:

  • becoming overweight or obese
  • developing depression due to a lack of activity and a feeling of being unhealthy
  • developing coronary heart disease (CHD) which can lead to death
  • high blood pressure, sometimes referred to as hypertension
  • increased risk of osteoporosis or brittle bones
  • a loss of muscle tone and development of poor posture which can lead to back problems
  • a loss of fitness such as decreased flexibility or strength

Solutions

Changing sedentary behaviours means altering many, often small, aspects of people's daily lives.

Various alternatives to sedentary lifestyles at school, work, home and whilst travelling are shown.