People often think: “I’m on the run all day! Coming from work, going to work, returning home, walking around the house, kids, housework… This, in theory, is physical activity, but it is not as rationed, systematic, and regular as it should be. First and foremost, a person should realize by themselves that there is no physical activity in their life, that their working day looks as follows: morning-breakfast-commuting-work-evening-trip back-home. In fact, “physical activity” means regular physical strain, engagement in some kind of sport; the recommended frequency is three times a week for at least one, but preferably two, hours per day.
One should not wait until the first “symptoms” of a sedentary lifestyle set in. In any case, however, if these do appear, what are the first things to pay attention to? The first thing which a person experience is an early fatigue. A person may notice that they find it increasingly difficult to hold out until the end of the working day, experience fatigue in the neck area or the pectoral girdle, suffer headaches of various types, experience deteriorating eyesight toward the end of the day, find it more difficult to focus, or notice slight trembling of the hands − all the above are signs of over fatigue. The latter emerges when a person does not rest adequately in order to replenish energy. Regular engagement in sports is precisely what gives a person the opportunity to train and replenish their energy reserves.
Another, more serious “symptom” of a sedentary lifestyle is a pain. Employees who sit down throughout the working day usually experience pain in the neck area, the pectoral girdle, and the lower back. They may also experience numbness in the hands as well as areas of the neck and back. In most cases, these types of injuries originate in the muscles, meaning that these states are caused by contracted or tired muscles. This, however, is the beginning of an illness. And the latter should be prevented.
A sedentary lifestyle is not only harmful to the musculoskeletal system (our joints, vertebra, muscles, and other soft tissue), but to our entire body and every system within it: cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, nervous, urinary, and reproductive, in both men and women. A lack of regular engagement in sports may give rise to a number of serious illnesses. I would like to emphasize that a sedentary lifestyle leads to excess weight, and the latter is often the foundation of numerous illnesses.
When you finally decide to change something…
Based on my experience of working with patients, I can say that conversation is the chief impulse for a person changing their inactive lifestyle… When you explain to a patient what they are dealing with and that there are things which later could prove impossible to reverse, restore, or cure. And it works in 99% of cases. People are afraid and, indeed, it is fear that motivates them. But it is necessary to simply explain to them the dangers of little physical activity. In the old days, there were no sports facilities or gyms. Now, especially in cities, that problem is gone. All facilities are available essentially to every sector of the population, there are different options and offers on the market.
If a person does not have any complaints about their health, they can then go ahead and buy a gym or sports membership. It is always necessary to choose activities conducted by a professional trainer; in other words, one should not exercise independently because, as evidenced in practice, lack of knowledge is often the cause of injury. This most often happens in athletic facilities where people choose which exercises to do, but their technique and pacing is incorrect. On the other hand, a trainer will set a training process and show you how to do exercises. You will then understand how you should proceed with your regime. It is critical, however, that someone monitor your training process. Training should be started gradually, from one hour per session, three times a week.
When a person wants to start doing sports but still has certain complaints about their health, it is worth starting with an examination. Suffice it to approach a family doctor and voice your complaints to him. He will then direct you for an appropriate examination.
Do not fear if your body is sore after exercise − this is muscle pain. By the way, this is a very positive criterion: If your muscles ache after training, it means that your training session was good. And it is important to understand that a muscle increases in strength not during training, but during rest. Thus, if you did exercise involving muscle strain, this must be followed by a recovery period. If a person overworks their body without proper rest, it may lead to trauma.
A day full of movement
Morning. First and foremost, let’s start with the fact that you need morning exercise. I do not believe that someone does not have time to do it. Exercise takes 10 minutes. And it can be done by anyone.
Working day. If your work is sedentary, the workplace can be arranged appropriately. Nobody will forbid you from getting up once every hour and walking around for 5-10 minutes. And there are countless physical exercises which can be done in the workplace and which were developed specifically with office employees in mind. And you can do these without being distracted from your work.
When a person does physical work (in mines, factories, etc.), I emphasize, once again, that this is not the type of physical activity which facilitates the maintenance of good health. Such employees also need regular engagement in sports.
I would also like to send a message to drivers. I also drive and I realize that I can travel on foot to many places, but I still choose to drive there because I’m accustomed to it. This needs to be opposed. If you see that you can travel a certain distance on foot, then do so. Besides, this is many times healthier than driving! You might be a few minutes late, but no worries − think about your health!
Evening. For a person who does sedentary work, fatigue toward the end of the day is usually psychological rather than physical. A person is mentally exhausted, that is why a change of environment is necessary. I think that it will suffice to take a short walk around the city or a park, and your mood will already improve. Even if your brain insists: “I don’t wanna, I’m tired” − it is your brain that is tired, not your body. After all, you did not do any physical work. Your body has enough energy to walk! You just need to force yourself to do it.
Your reward? A good life
It is important to understand that sports and regular physical strain are not simply a physical activity which we do with our eyes fixed on one spot. It also involves interaction with people similar to us who do the same exercises. Group exercises are even better because they provide more motivation. If you see that someone is doing an exercise better, you will want to improve yourself. Do not forget that physical activity also provides emotional satisfaction. It is known that during physical activity the body produces endorphins − the happiness hormones! I think that this is absolutely fantastic!
In addition to physical activity’s very good effect on health, the sport also educates! It hardens a person not only in the physical aspect, but also in their behavior, skills, and habits.
In my view, the main factor preventing people with a sedentary lifestyle from changing it is laziness. The most common excuse I have heard from people was “I have no time!” But a sedentary lifestyle is a path toward illness. And when there is an illness and your brain is preoccupied with pain, you become more irritable and anxious… What does a physically active person achieve? A better life. This means living longer and healthier! When you are healthy, you can achieve many things, share them with others, see things, and so on.
Author: Jaropolk Pshyk
Christian family magazine “Kana”, March 2015