Ask 23-year-old Hemant Sandhu what his favourite activity is, and the answer usually involves some version of “sitting".
“I can spend the rest of my life sitting, watching TV and gorging on pizza," the New Delhi-based MNC professional jokes.
If you have a similar temperament, that’s not good news. A sedentary lifestyle has incredibly negative effects on the body, and can lead to long-term health related complications.
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death," says James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in an interview in with the LA Times. “The chair is out to kill us."
Cause for concern
Nearly 61% of all deaths in India are due to lifestyle issues. The World Health Organization identifies, among other things, lack of physical activity to be a major cause of such diseases. Unfortunately, most jobs entail sitting down for an average of 9.3 hours a day. This is almost inevitable, but exceptionally large amounts of time outside work are also spent in sedentary positions—often in front of a television or computer screen. The modern lifestyle is notoriously lacking when it comes to emphasizing the importance of physical fitness.
Research by the University of Liverpool reveals that two weeks of inactivity in young, healthy people can reduce muscle mass and produce metabolic changes leading to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and potentially premature death. Now, imagine what a lifetime of nine-hour desk jobs will do.
More than a 100 million individuals are obese in India, according to a community-based study done in November 2016 on prevalence of obesity among urban population of Shivamogga, Karnataka.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS); 2015-16 revealed that 11% of women (1 in 10) and 15% of men (1 in 7) in the age group of 15-49 are hypertensive.
Time to rethink your lifestyle, maybe?
To begin with the obvious, start with building an exercise habit. Data reveals that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity can counter the effects of excessive sitting (1).
It is also important to supplement exercise with some daily positive physical habits. A few useful ones are mentioned below:
-Take a break from sitting every thirty minutes. Stand up at your desk and stretch your legs.
-Consider asking for a standing desk.
-Have walking meetings with your colleagues.
-If you have to ask something, walk to your colleagues’ desks instead of emailing them or using the office chat.
-Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
-Park farther from the office entrance and walk.
-If you use public transportation, get off one stop earlier and walk.
Of course, you also need to be prepared for the worst, which means having a health insurance plan in place. Not only will this allow you to deal with unforeseen medical expenses, but provide you with a peace of mind. After all, you don’t need stress to make things worse for body and mind.
Consider opting for the Click 2 Protect Health plan from HDFC Life, which provides you and your family financial protection at an affordable cost. In case of accidental total permanent disability or diagnosis of a critical illness, all your future premiums will be waived off. The policy will also fetch you tax benefits.