June 30th, 2017 - Brian Maguire

A sedentary lifestyle can be defined as a lifestyle represented by a low level of physical activity. Over the course of the years, industrialization and technological advances have had a noticeably negative influence on people’s activity levels. Nowadays, the survival prerequisites that primitive men experienced are not required in most cases, and a more sedentary lifestyle is part of the norm. 

Just to give you an example, here is a day in the life of a woman in 1900. According to Martha Lindsey’s real life diary “The day and night before school started in 1901, I worked one hundred buttonholes and sewed on one hundred buttons, trying to finish up the children’s school clothes. I was still sewing at dawn. I milked the cows and fixed breakfast. I worked all morning about the house and cooked dinner. Then that afternoon I gave birth to my tenth child.” Quite a transition in normal daily activity demands for the majority of people in this day and age!

According to the American Heart Association, due to technology and better mass transportation, sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950; physically active jobs now make up less than 20% of our workforce. In 1960, about half of the US workforce was physically active. This is one of the reasons movement and regular exercise is so vitally important to maintain health and longevity in today’s modern world.

Pedro C. Hallal, a professor at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, along with his team of researchers, referred to a large mass of data that the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) collected in recent years in regards to activity levels. The latest data demonstrates that the world’s population has become frightfully inactive. Per the researchers’ figures, 31.1 percent of the world’s adults, or about 1.5 billion people, are almost completely sedentary! This means that they do not meet the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of walking or other moderate activity per week, which works out to about 20 minutes a day. 

Teenagers are faring even worse. Worldwide, more than 80 percent of young people ages 13 to 15 are not getting the hour a day of vigorous exercise recommended for their age group. Not surprisingly, North America and Europe lead the world in the lack of minimal exercise category, with 43.3 percent of Americans and 34.8 percent of Europeans not even reaching the low recommended threshold. Almost 17 percent of the nation’s deaths are linked to a lack of exercise, with 10.8 percent of all premature deaths in the U. S. now related to too little exercise. That’s a very low estimate considering almost ¾ of US citizens are overweight or obese, and inactivity compounds the effects of overeating significantly.

Living a sedentary lifestyle allows the body to slowly deteriorate as you are much more likely to retain harmful acidic waste and toxic debris. Inactivity brings about many damaging consequences. For starters, peristalsis, which controls involuntary muscular contractions that allow you to digest your food, is dangerously altered. When peristalsis is not stimulated through exercise or regular activity, the digestive system becomes sluggish. The bacterial ecology of the gut that is responsible for educating up to 80% of the immune system becomes imbalanced and overrun with pathogenic bacteria. Absorption and assimilation of nutrients is compromised as well as all cellular health, advancing the disease and aging process.

When you do not exercise and stay active, the body doesn’t generate enough sweat. This not only interferes with the elimination of acidic waste and certain toxins that prefer to be eliminated via the skin, but places an extra burden on the bodies other detoxification systems. Keep in mind, one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease is inactivity. After all, the heart itself is a muscle and needs to stay conditioned. Exercise strengthens the heart and increases circulation. This in turn promotes nitric acid production via the arterial lining and keeps blood pressure in check.

Sedentary individuals can look forward to a slower metabolism, weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, high cholesterol and blood pressure levels, increased risk of cancer and just about any other condition you can think of. All these conditions result from and contribute to the damaging effects of high acid levels, low blood and tissue oxygen, and chronic inflammation in the body. Even limited daily activity or exercise can have a profound effect on your overall health.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ‘Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk’ looked at the association between running and mortality risk for over 55,000 adults over a 15-year period averaging 40 years of age. According to the authors; “During a mean follow-up of 15 years, 3,413 all-cause and 1,217 cardiovascular deaths occurred. Approximately 24% of adults participated in running in this population. Compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit.”

The results of the study were rather outstanding, concluding that running the equivalent of even five to ten minutes per day “MARKEDLY reduced deaths from all causes and cardiovascular disease.  Swimming, biking, and other vigorous activities were seen to be equivalent to running with similar benefits. The proof is in the pudding! 

In addition to studies like these, I find that anecdotal evidence is oftentimes proof enough based on the results of others. With applied action, you can look, feel, and perform better physically and mentally after applying certain techniques learned from another individual’s personal experience.  It’s not fail proof that what worked for someone else will work for you, as no one’s body is exactly the same, but if you use that reasoning as an excuse not to try it, you will never know, and may miss out on a life changing experience! 

Sedentariness not only limits or restricts physical activity levels, but negatively impacts the delicate acid/alkaline balance.

Research shows that pH imbalances restrict performance levels. In a study published by the Journal of Applied Physiology (Jones et al. 1977), the effects of pH levels were tested during exercise. It was found that the group with an acidic pH had a shorter endurance time compared with the controls. Also, those with acidosis showed abnormal functioning of their respiratory systems, and had low levels of free fatty acids, decreasing their internal fuel resources. Yes, this information was learned as far back as 1977!

Another study (Hollidge-Horvat et al. 1999) showed that an acidic internal environment decreased the metabolism of lactate and the breakdown of glycogen, impeding the release of acidic waste, and limiting nutrient uptake in cells. Blood glucose levels were increased as a result and energy levels suffered, proving that more acidic pH levels have major negative effects on cellular metabolism.

As reported by authors in the study and discussion: ‘Review of nursing diagnosis sedentary lifestyle in individuals with hypertension: conceptual analysis’, it is stated that cardio-respiratory endurance, muscle strength, and joint flexibility are considered components of physical activity. This relationship was demonstrated in a study in which active individuals reported moderate capacity (25%), good capacity (60%) and excellent capacity (15%), and sedentary individuals reported capacities ranging from very poor (7%) to weak (33%) and moderate (60%). Moreover, the active group showed muscular strength, endurance and flexibility for sports, while the sedentary group showed the OPPOSITE. The sedentary study participants confirmed not having the desired strength, muscle endurance or flexibility.

Countless studies and exhausting research displays how sedentary lifestyles are not suitable for the human body! Movement is innately necessary for survival. The lack of physical activity can not only initiate an array of physical dysfunctions, but affects emotional, mental and conscious spiritual health on a holistic level all increasing the risk for disease, and premature death is inevitable.