It’s hard to beat a little rest and relaxation, but too much downtime can be problematic. The effects of a sedentary lifestyle have captured the attention of researchers and doctors who have spent years studying how inactivity impacts the body and the mind. Not surprisingly, a lack of exercise and activity can leave a mark on your physical and mental health.
Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle
1. Lack of Activity Affects Your Mood
You’ve probably heard this before. You might have even learned about exercise highs – boosts in mood that tend to follow a good workout. Well, it’s not just hype. In fact, you do experience a sense of elation after getting up and moving. And you don’t have to break a sweat at the gym to enjoy this benefit. According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation, evidence shows that just walking regularly can enhance positive moods. According to the article, “People with high levels of regular physical activity have been shown to have higher levels of positive emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm, and alertness compared to people with moderate and low levels of physical activity.”
2. It Can Increase Your Risk of Cancer
The long-term effects of a sedentary lifestyle can really impact your health. Beyond weight gain, dips in mood, and a loss of muscle mass, a lack of physical activity has even been linked to cancer according to the National Cancer Institute. One cancer that has been researched extensively for its connection to physical activity is colon cancer. According to the NCI, researchers “that examined the association between physical activity and colon cancer risk found that the most physically active individuals had a 24% lower risk of colon cancer than those who were the least physically active.” But that’s not all they found. Data also suggests that women who are physically active are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who are less active.
3. A Lack of Activity Is Bad for Your Brain
According to Harvard Medical School, physical activity can provide a much-needed boost for your brain, which can be especially helpful as we age. Thanks to research, we now know that exercise has been shown to improve memory and critical thinking. In fact, according to Harvard, people who exercise regularly even have greater volume in the parts of their brain that control thinking and memory. But that doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym every day. Even approachable workouts like short 20-minute walks, dance lessons, and yoga can stimulate your body and mind and keep you healthy longer.
4. Inactivity Can Lead to Restless Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep becomes more difficult as we age, and inactivity can make it even harder to sleep through the night. The National Sleep Foundation finds that restless sleep is one of the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. But there’s good news: The foundation also found that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise like walking and swimming improves your ability to fall asleep quickly. It can also help you sleep for longer periods. So if you’re struggling with chronic insomnia, talk with your doctors about your sleep habits. Simply incorporating regular exercise could solve the problem.
5. Sedentary Lifestyle Leads to Weight Gain
Maintaining a healthful weight and physical activity have long gone hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that weight gain is one the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, weight gain caused by inactivity has been linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So if you notice unusual weight gain, be sure to talk with your doctor.
The effects of a sedentary life can hit us at any age. Luckily, you can improve your health with few lifestyle changes. Regular exercise can get you off the couch and feeling healthier and happier in no time. If you’re just starting a new workout routine or are looking for ways to become more physically active, check out these helpful tips.
In the meantime, be sure to check out our assisted living communities in Tennessee. At Hearthside Senior Living, we make it our goal to help seniors live healthy and active lifestyles no matter what their age. With home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, community events, and on-site nursing care, we are dedicated to our residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please give us a call at 901-854-6590 (Collierville location) or 901-266-3329 (Bartlett location), or contact us online.