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What is the definition? What is the difference between a sedentary lifestyle and inactivity? Our tips for combating this duo that's harmful to health.
The development of sedentary lifestyles and inactivity is linked to our modern way of life: means of transport, working in a seated position and various new ways of doing things mean that we are less active. The fight against a sedentary lifestyle has become a public health issue. Our definitions to help you understand everything and tips to counter a sedentary lifestyle and inactivity.
Physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are different, but both are to be avoided.
A sedentary lifestyle is defined as low energy expenditure as a result of prolonged sitting or lying down: working seated, watching television, car journeys, etc. Quite simply, it corresponds to the time spent sitting or lying down per day.
If you spend over 7 hours per day in a seated or lying down position (excluding time spent sleeping), you are considered to be sedentary. Oh dear, it mounts up quickly, doesn't it?
Ordinary back pain can be a sign of a sedentary lifestyle. Feel free to discuss it with your doctor. Generally speaking, symptoms appear gradually, and we don't notice them easily.
Inactivity is characterised by a duration of physical activity below the recommended threshold.
It is considered as inactive if you do less than 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity at a moderate intensity per week (such as walking, for example). Over a week, this works out as less than 30 minutes per day of walking, 5 times per week, at a good pace. This recommendation is valid for adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Below this amount, an individual is considered as inactive.
It is defined as “any movement produced by muscle contraction and leading to an increase in energy expenditure above resting expenditure.” Simply standing, making the bed or emptying the dishwasher is considered as a light activity. The intensity of the effort - and of the energy expenditure - can increase depending on the activity, like walking, running, going up the stairs, etc.
Physical activity is achieved in four different settings:
- In a professional setting: this concerns less than 10 % of the population in France - think of all the firemen, construction workers, nurses, etc.
- On the daily commute: home to work, school, shopping, providing it is active (on foot or by bike.
- In everyday life: tidying and cleaning are not to be dismissed, as they take time and can provide relatively intensive physical activity.
- In leisure time: sport comes under this category, as do gardening and DIY.
That's reassuring. It's not that complicated to combat a sedentary lifestyle, as physical activity is not only about sport, but can be achieved through everyday tasks.
Sedentary behaviour is independent of the amount of physical activity you do per week.
Let's take the example of a high-level sportswoman who does up to 5 hours of training a day. In between training sessions, if she spends her time sitting or lying down, the high-level sportswoman is considered as active and sedentary. Now that breaks down misconceptions, doesn't it?
Light activity should complement quality training and avoid a sedentary lifestyle as this increases premature mortality, even with regular physical activity.
Various tips can reduce health risks, such as travelling more on foot, walking the dog, going for a walk during your lunch break or getting up more often.
Working from home has its advantages but with regard to being sedentary, it's a red flag! Do you spend your days at your desk and on the sofa? Maintaining physical activity at home is important, for your health but also for your morale. Simple exercises to do when working from home do exist.
We are all the same: we agree on the substance, but we have to think of it and get used to doing it. Our tip: set up reminders in your calendar, on your telephone. Whatsmore, some mobile phone applications count your daily steps. It's a good way to make an initial assessment and set yourself small, progressive challenges.
Last of all, let's break down one more misconception!
No, doing 10 minutes of sport per day is not a waste of time. Start with moves that are easy to incorporate into your daily life, at your own pace.
Every little bit helps! We're on your side!