Discover the ravages of a sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity, and how to remedy it.

Computers have shaken up the habits of our societies. We now spend long hours sitting in front of our screens, at work or at home, reducing our mobility. An increase in sedentary behavior during professional and domestic activities (teleworking, home delivery, series, “passive” modes of transport, etc.) has also been associated with lower levels of physical activity.

However, the human body is not designed to spend so much time in a sitting position. It needs movement to function properly.


What is being sedentary?

Being sedentary means sitting for at least seven hours a day on average.

It was in 2002 that the WHO pulled the alarm when it revealed that physical inactivity increased all causes of death. This international organization points out that two-thirds of the population of developed countries, including children, have a sedentary lifestyle.

The result of this steady progression of sedentary lifestyles in our societies is that, again according to the WHO, approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to lack of exercise.

What are the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle on our health?

Physical inactivity is a global public health problem.

Sitting seven hours a day on average is simply dangerous for health.

A sedentary lifestyle plus a lack of physical activity form a terrible duo that generates many health risks: a significant increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, and overweight. In addition, they foster musculoskeletal disorders (lumbago, back pain, neck, shoulder, etc.). With a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity, the muscles relax and no longer fulfill their supporting role satisfactorily.

But the ravages of physical inactivity don't just affect the body, they also affect the brain: increased risks of cognitive decline and dementia. In 2014, a study conducted by Doctor J. Carson Smith, researcher in kinesiology at the School of Public Health (University of Maryland) was able to show that physical activity, even moderate, could slow down the shrinkage of the hippocampus, a brain area strongly involved in memory and spatial orientation, which is the target of Alzheimer's disease.

Another Finnish study, published by the University of Jyväskylä in March 2015, for example showed, by analyzing data from ten pairs of adult male twins, aged 32 to 36, that the twins who had practiced the most Physical activities during the previous three years had a larger volume of gray matter in the striatum and the prefrontal cortex, two brain areas particularly important for cognitive functions.

Finally, let's mention a study carried out in 2013 by the University of Dundee in Scotland which followed 4755 adolescents and established a positive correlation between the practice of physical activity and the level in English, mathematics and science


To compensate effects of a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity, to improve their cardio-respiratory endurance, their muscle and bone condition, and to reduce the risk of disease, adults aged 18 to 64 must practice weekly :

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance activity (30 minutes a day five days a week)
  • or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity endurance activity
  • or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.

To achieve additional health benefits, adults should:

  • increase the duration of their moderate-intensity endurance activity to 300 minutes
  • or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity endurance activity
  • or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.

Additionally, muscle-strengthening exercises involving major muscle groups should be done at least two days a week.

To conclude.

Physical activity is far from being a waste of time, quite the contrary. It is even vital. Benefits are numerous from a physical point of view, but also mentally. Not to mention that it's good for spirit and that you can have great fun giving everything on push ups while listening to good big Metal riffs!