Thursday, February 10, 2022


Written by: Josh Schueller, PT

In the health care universe, clinicians face many challenges in the pursuit of improving health and wellness for their patients. Many variables play a role in a patient’s recovery from illness or injury. Some of these variables are controllable some are uncontrollable.  In my decades or treating illness and injury, the #1 controllable variable is having a SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE.   This lifestyle is characterized by a high rate of inactivity (such as too much sitting) and little physical activity throughout each day-- a major precursor to many serious health issues.  

The past 20 years 'blessed' humanity with an exodus of screen technologies like phones, computers, and streaming videos on TV- increases the prevalence of sitting stationery.  The average American spends over 7 hours a day looking at a screen of some kind. Combining this with 7-9 hours of sleeping per day, two-thirds of our day is automatically spent sedentary for the average American.  This doesn’t account for time spent driving, eating, or talking with someone which usually occurs in a sitting position.  Many have compared sitting as the new smoking regarding health concerns. Nearly a half of all Americans are obese.  Sedentary lifestyles are directly correlated with obesity.  Hypertension, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and sleep apnea are all significantly increased because of a sedentary lifestyle.  Musculoskeletal issues such as osteoporosis, joint pain, chronic inflammation and stiff/weak muscles are all associated with sedentary lifestyle. Anxiety and depression are increased with sedentary lifestyle.  

Over the last two years COVID-19 has also played a significant role in increasing sedentary lifestyle.  Social isolation, social distancing, working from home, fitness centers closing, quarantine have all led to an increased acceptance to a sedentary lifestyle.  Over the last two many of our houses have a worn carpet trail from the bedroom to home office to kitchen to bathroom every single day.  Rinse and repeat every day.  Blaming COVID is a popular rationale. A recent study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, demonstrated that sedentary people had a greater risk of hospitalization, admission to ICU, and death from COVID-19 compared to those who meet the physical activity guild lines. 

Looking at our current existence (job types, transportation modes, technologies), modern society has enabled us to be inactive.  In fact, it encourages it.  Our very economic trends like online ordering lends itself to us all reaching for the quicker/cheaper option instead of exerting any calories to achieve anything. 

Exercise is the new swear word in today’s world.  Many people just hearing the word exercise break out in hives or have a breakdown.  The excuses not to exercise are endless.  “I am too busy”, “I am too tired”, “it hurts to exercise”, “exercise is boring” seem to be the most common.  We need to stop using the words exercise and diet and instead replace with movement and wellness.  So many people take a failed approach to movement and wellness.  This “all or nothing” mind set has to stop and it has to stop NOW!!!!.  If you have been sedentary for an extended period, DO NOT try to change a hundred bad habits.  That is unfair and it leads to failure.  Set yourself up for success not failure.  Success breeds success.  If you think you are going to change all your bad habits like physical activity, diet, sleep, and medications all in one day or week you find yourself back on the couch watching Real Housewives of Whatever County.

According to just about every cardiologist and Fitbit(tm), movement is recommended 150 minutes a week. That might seem like a lot but that is only 30 minutes a day 5 days a week.  That doesn’t mean a high intensity Navy Seals style workout session.  It is easy to fall out of shape, don’t set too many obstacles in your way. 


1) Image insert: "Sitting too much can AGE you by a lot..." - AARP:

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