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The Risks of Living An Inactive Lifestyle (And How to Prevent Them)

Over 20 million people in the UK are physically inactive, according to a recent report from the British Heart Foundation.

The charity warns lack of physical exercise is causing one in ten premature deaths from coronary heart disease and one in six deaths overall. Moreover, even sitting in one place for too long has negative health repercussions — no matter how physically active you are. But, with the prevalence of office jobs and too much screen time, inactive and sedentary lifestyles are unfortunately common. Keeping active is important to protect your mental and physical health.

The perils of sitting for too long
The report shows the average man in the UK spends a fifth of his lifetime sitting — that’s the equivalent of 78 days each year. For women, it’s around 74 days a year. Sedentary living leads to high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular heart disease, and even cancer. Moreover, a study by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University shows sitting for too long in the same place decreases blood flow to the brain, depriving it of essential oxygen and nutrients. It therefore becomes harder to think clearly and remember information.

Work out for good health
The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise for adults each week. Regular exercise reduces risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and some cancers. Even for those with busy schedules, there’s always time to fit in a quick and effective home workout, which doesn’t require a lot of room or equipment. Alternatively, many people rely on the gym to keep fit. Gyms have a wide range of effective cardio and strength training equipment you may not have at home. There’s a social aspect too: group exercise is motivating mood-boosting, and a great way to meet like-minded people.

NEAT: the cure for sedentary lifestyles
When you’re sitting down for hours on end, it helps to get up and move around regularly. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (or NEAT) is the name given to low-impact movements — such as, household tasks or gentle walking — which boost your circulation and metabolism. Doing NEAT activities for five or ten minutes each waking hour will lower your overall sedentary time. Standing up and stretching, washing the dishes, or taking a short walk around the office or house will cancel out the negative effects of too much sitting.
When it comes to being active, doing a little is better than nothing at all. If you don’t have time for regular workouts, be sure to incorporate NEAT into your daily routine. Start with fitting in workouts on the weekend to build up your fitness and boost your health.