Sedentary lifestyle is defined as inactivity or any activity that does not require higher than normal levels of energy expenditure. This class of activity includes sitting, sleeping, and laying down. In the Physical Activity Council’s 2015 Participation Report, it was found that there was an increase in the amount of sedentary activity in the United States. Research suggests that roughly 25 to 35% of the US adults live a sedentary lifestyle.
The age group that is the most sedentary are adults over the age of 65, with females being more likely to be sedentary. The increase in sedentary activity in the United States can be attributed to jobs, technology, and better transportation. The amount of sedentary jobs increased by 83% from 1950 to 2015. The work week is also longer, with the average full-time employee working 47 hours per week. Better technology attributes to longer screen viewing time. The average American watches 28 hours of TV per week. Better transportation means that people no longer have to travel long distances by feet or bike. Rather, they can ride public transportation or drive, which require little energy expenditure.
Sedentary lifestyle can lead to many health damages and is linked to higher risks of multiple health issues and disease incidence:
- Obesity - In the United States, approximately 35% or adults and 17% of children are obese. Obesity is linked to multiple health risks, such as: cancer, hypertension, and increased mortality. Sedentary lifestyle is highly correlated with obesity.
- Colon and Breast Cancer - Sedentary individuals have a higher risk of colon and breast cancer. Increase risk in colon cancer could be due to the fact waste stays in the colon longer when individuals are inactive. Breast cancer risk is 30%-40% higher in sedentary women, however, the reason behind this is still under research.
- Diabetes - Sedentary activity is highly correlated with diabetes. In a study from the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, they found that the risk of diabetes is increased when individuals sit for more than 4 hours a day.
- Stroke - Sedentary individuals are more likely to have a stroke. This is because sedentary individuals are more likely to have hypertension, diabetes, obesity, which also increases the risks of strokes.
- Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) - Sedentary individuals are at a greater risk of mortality from CVD than active individuals. Sedentary individuals are at a 30%-50% higher risk of dying from CVD.
Blog Post by Summer 2016 Intern June Yao.