The Harmful Effects of Being a Couch Potato


After about 30 minutes of exercise, do you like to lounge around and watch your favorite web series? You might end up watching an episode or two, or maybe five. You spend most of your day sitting in front of your computer, another electronic device, or just on the couch. If this sounds like you, then you are spending too much time being sedentary. It could mean possible heart disease in the making.

Are you not yet alarmed? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 2 million deaths are attributed to sedentary lifestyles, also known as “sitting disease” or “couch potato syndrome”. Sedentary behavior refers to a state of sitting or relaxation, such as sitting in a car on the way to work, sitting in a meeting, or watching TV on the sofa for an extended period of time. It is defined as a “waking behavior” characterized by an energy expenditure less than or equal to 1.5 metabolic equivalents (METS) while sitting, lying or lying down.

This has many negative effects.

Obesity (3,000,000 premature deaths are attributed to this disease; a higher incidence is observed in those who sit more than 5 hours / day)

The risk of cardiovascular disease doubles

Blood pressure rises

Risks of metabolic diseases leading to heart disease and diabetes increase

Chances of clotting in the veins of the legs leading to pulmonary embolism are increased

Cholesterol disorders increase

Increased risk of chronic diseases, Batteries, etc.

A sedentary lifestyle is a cause of many premature heart attacks. It, together with poor posture, worsens osteoporosis and causes spinal problems. Anxiety and depression are major complications of a sedentary lifestyle.

The last eighteen months of Covid-19 have worsened the sedentary lifestyle, causing more obesity and cardiovascular disease. The truth is, even if you are physically active, being sedentary is still detrimental to your health. Training does not compensate for the consequences of sitting all day.

What can you do?

It can be difficult to change your habits, but try some of these tips. A little goes a long way when it comes to better health and can help lower your risk factors.

Better to be standing than sitting.

Get up every 30 minutes from your chair and take a walk.

Preferably use the stairs, avoid elevators.

Walk while taking a phone call.

Use technologies like fitness tracker apps, on a cell phone or while wearing a fitness watch.

We need big behavior changes, especially in children and young adults, as they spend more time on gadgets than playing games. It is the parents’ prerogative to know what activity interests the child and to instill the habit. Whether it’s biking, playing tennis or dancing, nothing is off limits to keeping your metabolism high. Chores like looking after the garden, cleaning the house, walking the dog will expose children to physical labor, essential to ward off laziness. Foods high in sugar cause blood sugar levels to spike and drop rapidly, which can lead to poor appetite, so foods that are gradually digested are ideal for any metabolism and should be encouraged.

(The writer is a senior consultant at a hospital in Kalyan)

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