As a global population, we are moving less than we ever have before. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 60-85% of people in the world lead sedentary lifestyles—meaning they spend most of their time sitting and do little to no physical activity. Sadly, this problem isn’t just limited to adults; about two-thirds of children also don’t move enough.1
In the modern world, we drive more, we use TV and video games more, and we do less manual work that requires physical effort. Even our household duties have become less demanding than in generations past.2
We’ve moved away from naturally active lifestyles spent walking to where we need to go, using our bodies to tend to our homes and land, and doing activities as a family outdoors. Now, many of us drive to work, sit at our desk all day, and return home to relax on the couch all night.
Unfortunately, this is coming at a huge cost to our health. Read on to learn about the health risks of sedentary lifestyles, the benefits of moving your body, and how you can start to incorporate more movement into your daily life to stay healthy.
What happens to your body when you don’t move
Our bodies are meant to move. When we aren’t physically active, all sorts of problems start to occur, including loss of muscle strength, fewer calories burned, reduced immune strength, increased inflammation, hormone imbalances, weakened bones, disruptions to metabolism, and much more.3
These harmful effects on our health are not insignificant and can lead to very serious consequences. Sedentary lifestyles and lack of physical activity are associated with health conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Certain cancers1 3
The World Health Organization believes that a sedentary lifestyle could likely be one of the top 10 causes of death and disability in the world.1 In fact, about 2 million deaths per year can be linked back to physical inactivity; lack of movement is even described as a “silent killer.”1 2
Health benefits of moving your body
As you can see, lack of physical activity is very hard on the body. We need to move for our bodies to feel their best and to prevent health problems down the line.
There are so many different benefits of staying active, and scientists are continually uncovering more and more reasons to sit less and move more.
Here’s a small sampling of some of the incredible health benefits of physical activity:
- Improving your sleep
- Strengthening bones and muscles
- Boosting mood and mental health
- Losing weight
- Reducing anxiety
- Keeping blood sugars in check
- Sharpening your cognitive abilities
- Reducing your chance of falls or fractures
- Slowing bone density loss4 5
On top of all those benefits, physical activity can reduce your risk for serious diseases. For example, people who engage in regular physical activity have a 50% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, 83% reduced risk of osteoarthritis, 50% reduced risk of colon cancer, and 35% reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.2
Ultimately, moving your body more can increase your chances of living longer.4 5 6 One study found that replacing just half an hour of sedentary time per day with light-intensity activity can reduce your risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease by 24% and your risk of mortality from any cause by 11%.6
Guidelines for exercise and physical activity
In general, the more you move, the better. But how much exercise is really enough to keep you healthy and reduce your risk of common health problems?
Experts recommend that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise over the course of a week.2 7 It is best to spread out your activity throughout the week, rather than doing it all at once in one big chunk.
You can tell if you are exercising at moderate intensity if you can feel your heart and breathing rates rise. You should be able to talk, but not sing. When doing vigorous exercise, you shouldn’t be able to say more than a few words without needing to take a breath.2 7
When it comes to adding more movement into your weekly routine, there are 3 areas you should be focusing on.
The 3 types of exercise to focus on
The 3 main categories of exercise are strength training, endurance training, and flexibility.
Many people tend to focus on only one type of exercise, and they end up doing the same physical activities day after day. But it is important to get all 3 of these fitness types into your regular routine.8
Strength training helps us to build muscles. Examples of muscle-building activities include lifting weights, doing pushups, or using a resistance band. It is recommended to do strengthening activities twice per week.7
Strengthening exercises can help us to improve our physical performance, make daily activities easier, boost cognitive abilities, and improve self-esteem.8 9 They can reduce blood pressure, blood sugars, low back pain, and arthritis.9 Building strong muscles also helps us to build stronger bones, which can help us to avoid problems like osteoporosis.10 When we are stronger, we also improve our balance which reduces our risk of falls and injuries.8
Endurance exercise helps to increase stamina. When doing endurance training, we are repeatedly using our muscles in a way that raises our breathing and heart rate over a period of time. Examples of endurance exercises include jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, climbing stairs, and playing sports.
Increasing stamina through endurance training has widespread benefits throughout the body. It can support a healthy heart, lungs, and circulatory system; it helps keep blood sugars in check; and it has positive benefits on hormone and immune function, for example.8 11
Stretching is an important, but often overlooked, form of physical activity. If we want our bodies to function smoothly, we need to focus on flexibility. Whether we just do casual stretching each day or do more formal activities that help with flexibility like yoga, it is important to work on flexibility regularly.
When we stretch our muscles, we keep them healthy. Without stretching, muscles can become tight, weak, and unable to keep up with our daily demands. This can ultimately cause pain, strains, and injury.12 Stretching helps us to be better able to freely move around in our day-to-day lives and stay healthy when we take on more strenuous activities.8 12
Tips for getting more movement into your daily life
It’s not always easy to get more physical activity into your daily life. And even if you are someone who regularly works out and hits the recommended amount of physical activity in a given week, you may spend the rest of your days sitting in an office chair or on the couch. And that is still problematic.2
The goal is to make physical activity an everyday part of life so that you ultimately sit less and move more.
Here are some tips for incorporating more movement into day-to-day activities:
- Walk or bike to the grocery store instead of using your car.
- Take public transportation to work instead of driving.
- Get up and move around at least once per hour, even if for just one minute.
- Do chores daily that keep you moving like cleaning, gardening, or yard work.
- Move while you watch TV. Consider stretching, using an exercise bike, or lifting weights while you watch.
- Stand up and move around when talking on the phone.
- Consider a standing desk for work.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Make sure to use work breaks to your advantage by taking a walk.
- Encourage colleagues to try walking or standing meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
- Park farther away from destinations.
- Pick up a hobby that keeps you using your body like gardening, woodworking, or painting.
- Wash your own car rather than taking it to a car wash.
- Ask friends or family to be active with you.
- Consider dance classes, hiking clubs, or joining a recreational sports team for fun.2 3 4
Movement stressor Virtual Item
A digital signature, or Virtual Item, representing movement is categorized under the Lymphatic System in the ZYTO software. In the Balance biosurvey, specifically, this item is automatically scanned.
In the Select and Elite software, there are many items related to Movement that can also be scanned. Some of these include:
- Balance Exercises
- Coping strategy – Exercise
- Diet & Exercise
- Flexibility Exercises
- Strength Exercises
- Negative Affirmations – Diet & Exercise
- Positive Affirmations – Diet & Exercise
Furthermore, there are wellness services that can be scanned in the Balance, Select, or Elite that are related to movement, such as Exercise, Functional Exercise, and Stretching Exercises.
If any of these items show up in your report and the Movement Virtual Item is also out of range, you may want to pay even more attention to your movement and how much exercise you are getting, as well as the type of exercise you are doing.
Movement balancer Virtual Items
The item that brings an out-of-range Movement stressor back into range may be a supplement, oil, food, or other balancer Virtual Item. You can see which specific balancer brought the Movement Virtual Item back into range on the Advanced Report.
Of course, our sedentary lifestyles can prevent us from getting the movement our bodies need. And a habit of just sitting around all day can be difficult to break. This is where EVOX perception reframing can help. With the EVOX, you can address the habits and thought patterns that prevent you from being active. This technology works on a subconscious level, which can lead to both immediate and long-lasting changes.
About Chelsea Clark
Chelsea Clark is a writer and certified health and wellness coach who is passionate about supporting others along their own health journeys. She enjoys helping people make positive, lasting changes so that they can live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
1. “Physical inactivity a leading cause of disease and disability, warns WHO.” World Health Organization. WHO.int.
2. “Benefits of Exercise.” UK National Health Service. NHS.uk.
3. “Health Risks of an Active Lifestyle.” MedlinePlus. Medlineplus.gov.
4. “Benefits of Exercise.” MedlinePlus. Medlinplus.gov.
5. Rinninella, E., M. Cintoni, et al. “Benefits of Physical Activity.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Cdc.gov.
6. Dohrn, I.M., L. Kwak, et al. “Replacing sedentary time with physical activity: a 15-year follow-up of mortality in a national cohort.” Clinical Epidemiology 10 (2018): 179–186.
7. “How Much Exercise Do I Need?” MedlinePlus. Medlineplus.gov.
8. “Four Types of Exercise Can Improve Your Health and Physical Ability.” National Institutes of Health. Nia.nih.gov.
9. Westcott, W.L. “Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health.” Current Sports Medicine Reports 11, no. 4 (2012): 209–216.
10. “Strength Training Builds More Than Muscles.” Harvard University. Health.Harvard.edu.
11. Mrówczyński, W. “Health Benefits of Endurance Training: Implications of the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor-A Systematic Review.” Neural Plasticity (2019): 5413067.
12. “The Importance of Stretching.” Harvard University. Health.harvard.edu.