A sedentary lifestyle can be very easy to get used to and can be seen in people of all ages. Even students and working people are often found glued to their seats working at their desks. This can have a great impact on your bones and muscles. It is important to know the sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles.
Studies have shown that apart from injuries, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the causes that can lead to decreased habitual activity and result in partial or even complete reversal of physical training done earlier.1
On the contrary, it is also noticed that exercise training can have a positive impact on health and well-being, including maintaining healthy muscles. Let a take a deeper look into the sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles, its impact, and the ways to manage them.
Sedentary Lifestyle Effects On Muscles
Aging can have an impact on muscle health in various ways and a sedentary lifestyle can be one of those. Anyone who leads a sedentary lifestyle with almost no physical activity is at a greater risk of reduced muscle health. There are various reasons for leading a sedentary lifestyle. These include suffering from injuries, chronic ailments, or conditions like arthritis that can often affect your activity levels. For most healthy people sedentary lifestyle can be due to work-related long hours of sitting and traveling or a habit of spending leisure time watching television or prolonged sitting for any activity.
A 2015 study reported that higher levels of a sedentary lifestyle in older adults were linked to reduced muscle mass and an increased risk of sarcopenia. It was concluded that higher levels of sitting time with increased television watching resulted in lower muscle mass, independent of physical activity. This may mean that apart from physical activity prolonged sitting for long hours can have harmful effects on muscles.2
Here are some of the sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles:
- Weak Muscles – One of the main sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles is that with prolonged inactivity the muscles can get weak. Lack of adequate physical activity leads to deconditioning of muscles, which causes loss of strength and flexibility in the muscles.
- Risk of Joint Problems – Sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles also includes reduced health of bone, joint, and muscles that can increase the risk of joint problems. Loss of muscle mass can further lead to joint inflammation and raise the risk of bone disorders like osteoarthritis. Similarly reduced muscle mass and bone density can make the bone porous and raise the risk of conditions like osteoporosis. This, along with poor posture or improper walking techniques can increase the risk of fractures.
- Increased Risk Of Injuries – As muscle mass and muscle strength are the common sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles, they can further result in poor balance and coordination. Being overweight or advancing age can be an additional risk factor. Poor posture and lack of enough muscle strength and flexibility can increase your risk of having injuries like ligament or tendon injuries, sprains, or muscle strains.
- Neck or Back pain – Weak muscles often result in poor posture and can eventually cause neck pain or back pain. Muscles can easily get into spasms while traveling, playing sports, or doing daily household chores. Many people get involved in sports after a long gap or during vacations without realizing the sedentary effects on muscles. This is when the muscles that are not in very good condition may get strained and cause pain in the region.
- Spine Problems – The spine is supported by the bone and muscles around it. If the muscles around the neck and the back are weak and have lost mass due to sedentary effects, they can easily get fatigued. This not only causes pain and spasms but also increases the risk of spine problems like intervertebral disc herniation and nerve compression. The symptoms are sudden catchy pain in the lower back, and pain in the hips or behind the thighs. Nerve involvement is suspected if there is tingling, numbness, or changes in the sensation in the legs. When there is a disc injury in the neck or cervical spine pain or tingling can be felt in the arms and fingers.
Ways to Prevent Sedentary Lifestyle Effects On Muscles
As it is clear that a sedentary lifestyle has great negative effects on your muscles, the best way to prevent it is to get active. But it is important to begin your exercises gradually without overdoing them. Those who have health conditions must seek medical advice and begin an exercise routine under the guidance of an expert. Healthy individuals can begin with simple exercises like walking, jogging, swimming or cycling. Yoga, aerobics, dance, or sports is also good for those who enjoy doing them but must be done with caution and proper warm-up.
For any physical activity, the key is to practice moderation, be consistent and gradually increase. Regular practice is more important than playing for long hours just once in a while. Additionally, to avoid the hazards of prolonged sitting and the sedentary lifestyle effects on muscles, it is also advisable to be active throughout the day. Doing household chores, gardening, and walking down the street for shopping can be some ways to remain active and help maintain healthy muscles.