Effects of Physical Inactivity
Written by Pamela Baker, SPTA
Physically inactive or sedentary lifestyle (aka the sitting disease) is defined by the Center for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) as spending less than 150 minutes of moderately intensive activity in a week, or less than 75 minutes of vigorously intensive activity in a week. More and more Americans are living sedentary lifestyles. Much of this lifestyle can be attributed to our society’s increasing dependence on technology. Nowadays, entertainment can be found with a click of a button on our phones or televisions. Transportation has become more convenient with motorized vehicles. Then, food preparation is a breeze with readymade meals from restaurants, grocery stores, and even delivery services. Additionally, advances in technology have shifted the majority of the workforce from physically demanding jobs, such as farming and building, to more inactive office or desk jobs. On top of all of that, the global pandemic has forced many individuals to stay at home for increased safety.
Living this time of lifestyle, however, can cause more harm than good to a person’s health. The World Health Organization (WHO) rates a sedentary lifestyle as the fourth highest risk factor for global heart disease and colon cancer and 12% of hypertension and diabetes. Furthermore, physical inactivity affects one’s body by causing muscle atrophy, decreased bone density, and postural changes. All of which can lead to experiences of pain, increased incidences of falls, lack of functional independence, and development of comorbidities.
To avoid internal and physical decline, the CDC suggest spending at least 150 minutes per work performing moderately intensive activities. These activities can include running, swimming, biking, hiking, playing sports such as basketball, soccer, or football; or even joining a wellness program such as that offered at the Cantrell Center. Regardless of the activity chosen, be mindful of spending less time sitting and more time moving.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?”. U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services; October 2020. Available from:
Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Geneva. Word Health Organization; 2010. 2,
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY FOR HEALTH. Available from: