Health & Wellbeing

Sedentary Now, Diseases Tomorrow

Unveiling the Health Risks of a Stationary Lifestyle

In today’s modern world, our lives are characterised by much sitting and little physical exercise, which we term as sedentary. We wake up, hop into our cars and drive to work. At work, we sit in for meetings and more sitting in at our desks until its closing time, when we hop back into our cars, and the cycle continues almost every day. When people sit for lengthy periods of time or are inactive, their metabolism slows down. This makes it easier to acquire weight which may lead to obesity.

Sedentism-related weight gain can raise the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The build-up of this kind of lifestyle harms our physical and mental health. It also contributes to the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Sedentary lifestyles, identified as prolonged periods of physical inactivity, have become a global epidemic, leading to the rising incidence of NCDs. This trend toward passive lifestyles has led to an increase in NCDs such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. These diseases are frequently avoidable by lifestyle changes, emphasising the need for individuals to prioritise physical exercise and reduce sedentary behaviours.

A study by Lee et al., (2012) shows that physical inactivity raises the risk of several undesirable health problems, including major NCDs, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancers, and reduces life expectancy. According to the World Health Organisation, physical activity prevents and manages NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Physical activity on a regular basis benefit both mental and physical health. It helps people of all ages and capacities, and it is never too late to begin being more active and less sedentary in order to enhance health.

Despite this, 81% of teenagers and 27.5% of adults do not achieve WHO’s recommended levels of physical activity. This affects not just people over their lifetimes and their families but also health services and society as a whole. It is critical to break away from the sedentary lifestyle cycle in order to avoid and manage NCDs. Regular physical activity should be included into our everyday routines.

WHO Recommends:

Adults aged 18–64 years

  • should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; 
  • or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week
  • should also do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits.
  • may increase moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to more than 300 minutes; or do more than 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week for additional health benefits.
  • should limit the amount of time spent being sedentary. Replacing sedentary time with physical activity of any intensity (including light intensity) provides health benefits, and
  • to help reduce the detrimental effects of high levels of sedentary behaviour on health, all adults and older adults should aim to do more than the recommended levels of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity

With NCDs on the increase globally, the sedentary lifestyle epidemic poses a severe danger to public health. Taking proactive measures to include physical exercise into our life can lower our risk of NCDs and enhance our general well-being. We can counteract the negative consequences of sedentary living and embrace healthier, more active lives by adopting simple lifestyle adjustments and encouraging a movement culture. Remember that it is never too late to begin; every step counts!


Lee, I. M., Shiroma, E. J., Lobelo, F., Puska, P., Blair, S. N., & Katzmarzyk, P. T. (2012). Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. The lancet380(9838), 219-229.

Physical activity (

Global status report on physical activity 2022. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO