Despite awareness of the health risks of being physically sedentary and the benefits of being physically active, inadequate physical activity levels are prevalent throughout the world. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for death in the world, killing more than 5 million people per year according to The Lancet. Noncommunicable diseases (NCD) account for approximately 71% of all deaths globally. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes are the four most important NCD and contributors to the burden of disease. The prevalence of these diseases is increasing worldwide, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The risk of death from an NCD is increased by unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors such as sedentary lifestyles, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, harmful alcohol and tobacco use, and high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Heart Disease: Sitting for long periods has been linked to heart disease. One study found that men who watch more than 23 hours of television a week have a 64 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than men who only watch 11 hours of television a week. Some experts say that people who are inactive and sit for long periods have a 147 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Osteoporosis: Sedentary living increases your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which your bones become weak and brittle. The older you get, the more difficult it is to maintain bone density.
Diabetes: Studies have shown that even five days lying in bed can lead to increased insulin resistance in your body (this will cause your blood sugars to increase above what is healthy). Research suggests that people who spend more time sitting have a 112 percent higher risk of diabetes.
How to combat a sedentary lifestyle
Here are a few tips to help you meet your physical activity goals.
(a) Multi-task if you don’t have spare time. Yard work and household chores that have you moving around, such as sweeping, mopping, and dusting, can count as physical activity.
(b) Find creative ways to be more active: play active games with your family, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the back of the parking lot, challenge friends and family to see who can be the most active.
(c) Walk or bike for transportation whenever it’s an option.
(d) Make Time For Gym.
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