Are you someone who likes just laying on the bed or couch the whole day? Do you want to change this habit but are unable to do so because you feel exhausted all the time? Did you know a sedentary lifestyle is linked to poor mental health? So, let me tell you that I get you. I’ve been there. I’ve been an obese person suffering from mental health issues. In this article, let me share with you my journey of having a sedentary lifestyle and how that impacted my mental health. I will also share what you can do to overcome this lifestyle and improve your mental health.
“The human body is not designed to be sedentary.” – Steven Magee 
What does Sedentary Lifestyle mean?
A lot of TV shows and movies have been made about people who are ‘couch potatoes.’ One such example is Homer Simpson from the show ‘The Simpsons.’ Although this is a funny character that we see on TV, the reality is quite different.
Like Homer, I am a very lazy person. If someone asked me to move, I would just give them alternatives just, so I didn’t have to move. I didn’t have a job, and I would spend my whole day flipping channels on the television and would wherever was brought to me. I had packets of chips near me at all times. There were days when I didn’t move from the couch other than to use the bathroom. This is what a Sedentary Lifestyle is all about .
After some time, I realized my weight went up to 103 kilograms. And the only reason why I knew about that was because I was forced to go to a doctor for a stomach ache. It was only when I was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis that I started to do something about my health.
However, by then, my mental health had also gone for a toss. I had severe anxiety and depression. So, even if I wanted to do something, my body didn’t have the energy. It was quite a catch-22 situation, and I didn’t know what to do. I understood that I will have to be brave and force myself to get off the bed and couch and make some healthy choices . So, that’s what I did.
Are you able to relate to my story?
What are the Causes of a Sedentary Lifestyle?
I used to give myself excuses for my sedentary lifestyle. Back then, it looked like causes, today they are just excuses  :
- Occupational Demands: Maybe you have a job that requires you to sit for too long. A desk job can limit your opportunities to get up from the chair for any physical activity.
- Technological Advancements: I’m sure you love your gadgets. With how easy it is to get things done using technology while sitting in the same place and position, it’s difficult to have a healthy lifestyle. Plus, smartphones, laptops, and televisions get us glued to them for hours, specifically for adolescents.
- Environmental Factors: Maybe there is a lack of recreational facilities or poor urban planning in your area, or you live in an unsafe neighborhood. These factors can prevent you from getting some physical activity.
- Sedentary Leisure Activities: Children today grow up watching television. By the time they reach adolescence, they might get hooked on playing video games, watching TV, or using social media for hours. All these activities are mostly done while sitting, so they can also contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.
- Personal Preferences and Habits: You might not have the motivation or interest in doing any physical activity. This could also be because you don’t see the reason why you should get any activity at all. So it just becomes a habit and personal choice.
What is the Link Between a Sedentary Lifestyle and Poor Mental Health?
As I already mentioned, because of my sedentary lifestyle, I also ended up having mental health concerns. Here’s how the two are linked   :
- You are more prone to having symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You might trigger your stress hormones, like cortisol, and up having high-stress levels.
- You might take time in understanding what is being said to you or have trouble remembering what was said.
- You might have issues focusing and concentrating.
- You might have sleep issues, either that you’re sleeping too much or not sleeping at all.
- You might face daytime tiredness and sleepiness.
- You might feel very low and hence, have a lower quality of life.
How to Overcome Sedentary Lifestyle and Poor Mental Health?
You might feel that since your sedentary lifestyle has become a habit, you won’t be able to overcome it. But remember, it takes 21 days to build a new habit. Here’s what you need to do  :
- Incorporate Regular Physical Activity: During my weight loss journey, I have tried every kind of physical activity there is for weight loss – aerobics, Zumba, HIIT, yoga, etc. What worked best for me was a combination of brisk walking for 45 minutes and strength training for 45 minutes. I do it daily, but you can find what works best for you. But keep in mind that you should work out for at least 60 minutes 3-4 days a week.
- Break up Sedentary Time: If you see yourself sitting for too long, just get up and take a break. You can even schedule your breaks. Take a 15-minute break every 50 to 90 minutes. In fact, you don’t have to leave your space. You can simply stand for a while or stretch wherever you are. That way, you can fight against sedentary behavior.
- Establish a Routine: You can set up a routine for yourself. I started using a to-do list so that I could arrange my day and prioritize easily. I realized I had a lot of free time that I was unnecessarily wasting. So I added physical activity there. The idea is that once you have built a routine, you need to stick to it.
- Seek Social Support: Throughout the journey, I’ve had friends and family members supporting me and pushing me away from any temptations and sitting for too long. If you have any of such people, then ask them to help, or else you can join a support group for exercise or sports, and they will motivate you enough. In fact, by having such people in your life, even your mental health will improve.
- Practice Stress Management Techniques: You can even practice stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, etc. These exercises will help you in being in the present. That way, you can reduce your stress levels. You can add other stress-relieving exercises, breath control, relaxation exercises, etc., to your daily routine.
It’s very easy to just sit on the bed or couch the whole day. But your mind and body require you to get up and get going. That way, you can have a healthy lifestyle as well as great physical and mental health. Just force yourself to get up whenever you see yourself sitting for too long. Add some exercise routines to your daily schedule. In fact, you can even add meditation and mindfulness types of stress-reducing techniques so that you can take care of your mental health. If you are stress-free, your anxiety and depression symptoms can also start reducing. That way, you will feel even more motivated to get rid of a sedentary lifestyle. Don’t wait for something drastic like a big physical ailment to happen before you decide to change your life. Do it now!
For individuals struggling with a sedentary lifestyle and poor mental health, seeking professional support is essential. Our team of experts and counselors at United We Care specializes in wellness and mental health, offering guidance tailored to your needs. Take the first step towards improved well-being by reaching out to us today.
 “A quote by Steven Magee,” Quote by Steven Magee: “The human body is not designed to be sedentary.” https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8623288-the-human-body-is-not-designed-to-be-sedentary
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