Sedentary behavior and prolonged physical inactivity have been related to poor physical and mental health, as well as an increased risk of disease-specific morbidity and mortality. These illnesses are collectively referred to as “hypokinetic diseases,” according to Graves. Graves explained, “We’re talking about problems like heart disease, obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and osteoporosis.”
Many of these illnesses take time to develop, but even a little period of being exposed to a sedentary lifestyle can have a negative impact on your health. In healthy adults, a two-week reduction in daily steps from 10,000 to 1,500 steps compromised insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism, increased visceral fat, and lowered fat-free mass and cardiovascular fitness, according to a 2019 study from the University of Texas at Austin. Incorporating exercise, on the other hand, is maybe more concerning. Perhaps more troublingly, incorporating exercise back into your routine after a period of even four days of inactivity could not counteract all the negative effects.
Jay Polsgrove, associate professor and leader of Husson University’s Exercise Science Program, noted that experts have seen comparable effects while studying the effects of prolonged bed rest. “You’re advancing the aging process,” Polsgrove said. “Everything that happens with aging — increased blood pressure, increased body weight, decreased bone density [and] muscle volume — all of those things are happening at a much faster rate. It’s really hard to recover from that. The same thing is happening at home. You’re not in bed rest per se but you’re pretty much just sitting there in a small room, not being as active.”
Younger people also experience the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. A 2020 study from the University of Southern California found that short-term changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior in reaction to COVID-19 may become permanently entrenched, leading to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in children.
“Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind”.-Nelson Mandela