‘The Couch Potato Effect’ – Leading a sedentary lifestyle

~ Dr Swapnil Zambre, Orthopaedic& Arthroscopy Surgeon at Fortis Hospital Kalyan ~

The chances of you being perched in a chair while reading this article maybe high.  And, if you are habituated to sitting in front of your TV or computer screen for long, more so if your posture isn’t right, you are susceptible to leading a sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle is one, with irregular physical activity, sometimes none. A person who lives a sedentary lifestyle may well be known as a couch potato.

The Couch Potato Effect

Not receiving regular amounts of physical activity can cause a large amount of strain on your body. Lack of physical activity is regarded as one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide. Being crunched in a chair results to a form of physical entrapment where your body is limited to its functioning, as required. Major health risks result from sedentary lifestyles. A host of serious health risks may be connected to prolonged and excessive sitting. Too much inactivity has proven to be a major risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases. People who lead sedentary lifestyles tend to be overweight or obese. It is also linked to blood pressure and cholesterol. Moreover, sitting too much may cause a decrease in skeletal muscle mass.

Walking to work, taking the stairs rather than the elevator- these activities have ceased to exist in our lives today. They have not been replaced with the need to remain active while at the desk which is for more than 6hrs in a day. This increases the risk of developing weak muscles and bones, leading to joint and bone ailments.  Inactive individuals lose 20-40% of their muscle mass throughout their adult life. It is certain to say that leading a sedentary lifestyle influences the aging process.Adults who follow a more active lifestyle are biologically younger than sedentary individuals.

Most complaints often come from older adults, who suffer from Arthritis or other joint ailments, experiencing decline in their ability to perform basic functional tasks in their daily lives. Activities like preparing meals, shopping for groceries, taking medications and managing money as well as basic tasks such as walking across a room, bathing and dressing become tedious. Furthermore, older adults who do not use their muscles at its maximum physical capacity may further accelerate muscle function loss. Leading a sedentary life often causes joint inflammation in older adults. With the onset of arthritis and osteoporosis in older adults, the need to rely on a help increases.

According to DrSwapnil Zambre,Orthopaedic& Arthroscopy Surgeon at Fortis Hospital Kalyan, said that “Inactive and sedentary lives can hamper the overall health of a person. Younger adults with bad lifestyles tend to lead a difficult life once they reach their 40’s. The brunt of bad lifestyle decisions damages the joints in the long run. Although arthritis is considered as a problem associated with aging, we see a rise in the number of younger adults suffering from related ailments too. A person’s seating posture plays a pivotal role in damaging the joints which eventually leads to joint deformation. Decline in muscle integrity is seen in these individuals”.

Without proper physical activity, bones become weak and thus can fracture easily. Frequent physical activity helps strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis and other joint ailments from developing.

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