While some of us have wholeheartedly embraced a fit and wellness-focused lifestyle, it is indisputable that people, in general, are becoming more sedentary. And it could be killing us.
Between screen time, longer working days, and the lure of streaming services for maximum couch time, many of us are clocking up serious doing-nothing time.
Shocking new research from a study by Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University has found that a sedentary lifestyle may be far more detrimental than first thought.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Health aimed to look at the costs of sedentary lifestyles on the British National Health Service (NHS). Sedentary behaviour was identified as being inactive for more than six hours a day. It looked at the effect on five health outcomes; type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease [CVD], colon cancer, endometrial cancer and lung cancer.
The study concluded that diseases associated with prolonged sedentary behaviour cost the National Health Service about £700 million annually. It also revealed that a sedentary lifestyle was found to be linked to almost 50,000 deaths in the UK every year. Sitting down for long periods during the day can increase the risk of various illnesses including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The report bluntly stated that “If prolonged sedentary behaviour was eliminated, 69 276 UK deaths might have been avoided in 2016.”
It has long been known that an active lifestyle is better for health and wellbeing but this latest study shows the damaging effect of a lack of activity - both on the individual and a country's health service.
As lead investigator Leonie Heron from the Centre of Public Health at Queen's University noted, “We don’t have clear guidelines [on sedentary behaviour] yet but any increase in activity is beneficial to your health.”
So the message is clear: get moving.