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Is Your Lifestyle Too Sedentary?

Updated: May 17, 2022

If you find yourself planted behind a desk or stuck in the car for much of your day, you’re not alone. Thanks to the convenience of technology, our modern lifestyles and the pandemic, people are more inactive than ever.

In fact, a sedentary lifestyle (also known as the “sitting disease”) has been said to be worse than smoking cigarettes. Some say “sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting.” Simply put: Our bodies were not made to be stationary for long periods. Historically, if a person was sitting or lying down for hours when not asleep, they would have starved or gotten eaten by something. One of the very best gifts you can give yourself is physical activity.

Types of Exercise

All types of exercises offer health benefits. Performing different types of exercises can expand the range of benefits even further. But it is important to remember that some exercise is better than none, and that most everyone can participate in some form of exercise safely.

Aerobic/Cardiovascular physical activity. These are activities that are intense enough and performed long enough to maintain or improve one’s heart and lung fitness.

Examples: walking, jogging, dancing, bicycling, basketball, soccer, swimming

Muscle-strengthening activity. This may be referred to as resistance training. These activities maintain or increase muscle strength, endurance, and power.

Examples: weight machines, free weights, resistance elastic bands, Pilates, daily activities of living (lifting children, carrying groceries or laundry, climbing stairs)

Flexibility training. This may be referred to as stretching. It lengthens or flexes a skeletal muscle to the point of tension, and holds for several seconds to increase elasticity and range of motion around a joint. Improving flexibility can enhance the overall physical performance of other types of exercise.

Examples: dynamic stretches performed with movement (yoga, tai chi), static stretches without movement

Balance training. These activities are intended to throw off one’s balance to improve body control and stability. They can help to prevent falls and other injuries.

Examples: standing on one foot, walking heel-to-toe in a perfectly straight line, standing on a balance or wobble board


MET stands for the metabolic equivalent of task. One MET is the amount of energy used while sitting quietly. Physical activities may be rated using METs to indicate their intensity.

  • Sedentary—Uses 1.5 or fewer METs. Examples are sitting, reclining, or lying down.

  • Light intensity—Uses from 1.6-3.0 METs. Examples are walking at a leisurely pace or standing in line at the store.

  • Moderate intensity—Uses from 3.0-6.0 METs. Examples are walking briskly, vacuuming, or raking leaves.

  • Vigorous intensity—Uses from 6.0+ METs. Examples are walking very quickly, running, taking an aerobics class, or shoveling snow.

The frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise are helpful terms to consider when deciding on an exercise regimen.

  • Frequency: How often will you do the activity—once a day, three times a week, twice a month?

  • Duration: How long is the exercise session—20 minutes, 1 hour, 30 minutes split into two sessions in one day?

  • Intensity: How much energy is needed—light versus vigorous activity, 3 METs versus 6 METs?

The current guidelines for physical activity for adults is to engage in at least 150 to 300 minutes weekly (spaced throughout the week) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and at least 2 days weekly of muscle-strengthening exercises. Greater health benefits may be seen with more than 300 minutes weekly of exercise.

Walking & Health

Walking is an exercise that doable for almost everybody and is associated with improving high blood pressure and body mass index, and lowering the risk of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.

Walking speed, duration, and frequency can be adjusted depending on one’s starting fitness level, so that almost everyone can participate in walking as exercise.

You’ve probably heard that moving 10,000 steps a day is a healthy goal. What might surprise you is that the benchmark number of 10,000 is not actually based on science but was created as a marketing tactic in the 1960s by a company making pedometers.

Tips to Keep Moving

  1. Plan exercise into your day. Intention is an important first step. Set aside a specific time in your schedule to exercise every day.

  2. Accountability helps. If your motivation is lagging, connect with a friend or family member with a similar goal to move more.

  3. Try counting steps. Step-counters or pedometers are an easy, inexpensive way to remind yourself to move.

  4. Keep it brisk. When you walk, make it brisk, since this may help control weight better than walking at a leisurely pace.

  5. Turn off the TV, computer, and smart phone. Chances are that if you turn off these devices for an hour or two, you will automatically move more and curb your “sit time.”

  6. Turn sit time into fit time. Try to combine movement with a sedentary activity that you already do.

  7. Move at the office. If you work long shifts or care for a busy family after hours, fitting in a workout can be daunting. So focus on moving at the office even if you have a sedentary desk job.

  8. Split the workout. If you are new to exercise and find a 30-minute session challenging, split it into two 15-minute sessions.

  9. Sign up for a class or a specific event. Check out the fitness class schedule at your local gym, yoga studio, or community center.

  10. Reward yourself. Set short-term goals—then acknowledge and reward yourself when achieving them.

About the authors:

Madur & Anitha Jagannath are certified Nutrition Consultants, in addition to their professions in technology and human resources. When Madur started feeling lethargic and slowing down, he started exercising regularly, became conscious of healthy eating habits and nutrition. He is an avid runner and does half-marathons often. At Voyage to Wellness, they attribute our reputation to the lasting customer relationships they have developed throughout the years. They believe in health & wellness and being fit, at all stages of people's lives.

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