What Are the Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 January 2019
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There are a number of potential effects of a sedentary lifestyle, but among the most serious are obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. If a person spends all day sitting, the bones and muscles of the body may become weaker, leading to chronic pain and sometimes arthritis. A sedentary lifestyle also has been shown to speed up the aging process and cause psychological problems.

A sedentary lifestyle is defined as a lack of regular physical activity. In modern society, it is common for a person to spend the majority of time at work sitting at a computer before returning home by car to watch television. This, over time, can have a major effect on a person’s physical and mental well-being.

Obesity is one of the most common effects of a lack of physical activity. The problem is that sitting requires little or no calories compared to standing. If a person who spends most of his or her day sitting eats the same amount of food as someone who is constantly active, then continuous weight gain is likely for the sitter. Over time, this leads to obesity and excess amounts of fat. This, combined with a lack of exercise, also increases the chances of diabetes.


There are a large number of other potential health effects of a sedentary lifestyle. It is thought that heart diseases are most common among people who are not very active. This is because the heart doesn’t get the required blood supply if most of a person’s time is spent sitting. Some types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancer, also are more common among people who have this type of lifestyle.

Osteoporosis, in which the bones lose strength, is another of the many potential effects of being sedentary. When sitting, the bones aren’t put under stress, which leads over time to a loss of strength. This can result in the bones becoming more brittle and also increases the chance of arthritis.

Loss of muscle strength may sound like a less severe effect, but it can cause many problems. If the muscles aren’t regularly challenged and put under strain, then they are likely to get weaker. This leads to poor posture, a reduction in the ability to perform normal tasks, and chronic pain.

There are a variety of other potential effects of a sedentary lifestyle. It has been shown that sitting all day may speed up the aging process and increase blood pressure. This is the result of DNA shortening more quickly in people who are inactive. It also can lead to psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression, because exercise is essential for a healthy brain.


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