The health risks of sitting at your desk all day and a sedentary lifestyle include obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Break up prolonged sedentary behaviour and engage in short bouts of movement throughout the day.
Think you’re fairly healthy and lead a moderately healthy lifestyle? Weekend warriors beware! Even if you hit the gym or soccer field a couple of times a week, prolonged sedentary duration throughout the day (i.e. sitting at your desk) increases your risk of lifestyle chronic diseases. It’s time to wage war against a
sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity.
The ills of sedentary behaviours can sneak up on you. From being desk-bound for hours, to watching TV serials on your couch at the end of the day, it isn’t hard to become comfortably lazy and sit all day.
Based on studies conducted, prolonged sitting will lead to poor long-term mortality outcomes, including higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and higher risk of all-cause mortality.
That spreading bottom is but just one result of excessive sitting. Even if you exercise generally but sit for long periods of time, you still face only slightly lower health risks. Kids, too, are not immune! Here’s great news: it doesn’t take much at all to counter the problem.
Just standing up helps you burn twice as many calories as sitting and moving around can help to boost your cardio-metabolic health.
Take a five-minute walk every hour and you’ll actually expend more calories than sitting down.
In fact, with frequent walking breaks, you lower the risks associated with being overweight, and your body copes better with glucose control—important for those with diabetes. Regular exercise can also reduce your blood pressure which is commonly associated with hypertension, and you will be half as likely to suffer from depression as compared to a non-walker.3
Hitting your daily step count is actually less daunting than it sounds.
The emphasis is on staying on the move, so you don’t actually have to go out of your way to exercise. Need to talk to your colleagues? Visit them instead of picking up the phone (and use the stairs instead of the lift!). Got a snack attack? Keep your drinks and munchies at the pantry instead of at your table (you’ll also score points with the boss for keeping your workstation clean). Brain drain? Try pacing to get the ideas flowing.
Of course, nobody’s saying you have to exercise during your lunch break, but why not head out and walk to the food court? And if you have an extra fifteen minutes, that’s all the reason you need to shop, shop, shop.
The trick to regular physical activity is to sneak in as much as you can throughout the day.
In the morning, you could walk the kids to school, and at the end of the day, try walking back from the train station, or getting off the bus a couple of stops early. In the cool of the evening, an extra turn around the neighbourhood park on the way home will take off some of the day’s stress, and you’ll get home in a better mood, too.
When the weekend comes and you have more leisure time, don’t be a couch potato—bring the whole family and explore a neighbourhood in Singapore! That way, you’ll be broadening your mind instead of your hips.
That first step is always the hardest, but once you overcome the inertia you’ll be glad you took it. Ever caught yourself thinking any of these?
“I’m too tired” — Walking enough actually primes you for better sleep at night, so you’ll be more refreshed day by day. As your metabolism improves, you’ll find you’re feeling more energetic, all the time.
“I’m not fit enough” — Walking is a safe, low-impact exercise suitable for all ages. That means even if you are overweight or have terrible stamina, you’re still good to go!
“There’s too much to do” — Start walking before the stress gets to you. Walking offers an opportunity to relax and reflect. With better mental health, you’ll be more organised and more creative. You don’t even have to carve out time to walk—just make it part of your daily routine, as described above.
“I don’t know how to start” — Walking is simple and free. Whether alone or with friends, you can walk practically anywhere. Besides the tips above, try mall walking; or take up brisk walking as a hobby.
Don’t worry about the right time or the right place to start walking. As long as you are moving, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Soon, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to start!
You can also join the
National Steps Challenge™ to challenge yourself to move more!
Check out the table below. Do a bit of this, a bit of that to regularly clock your steps!
Download the HealthHub app on
Google Play or
Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.
Read these next:
This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
The ABCs of Health Screening
The Importance of Sleep
How to Eat Right to Feel Right
Impact of Haze on health
Delicious Diabetes Friendly Recipes - Eat Well, Live Well
Myths and Misconceptions about Depression
View More Programmes
Most STIs can be treated or managed if discovered early.
Go for a sexual health screening if you think you are at risk of STIs.
Physical activity is important to health. Get started with HPB's physical activity programmes and get more from life today!
Youth Preventive Dental Service (YPDS) provides oral health screening for pre-schoolers at some childcare centres as part of the Preschool Oral Health Screening and Fluoride Therapy Programme. Parents may access Healthhub to obtain the 'Information Sheet for Parents', which contains screening outcomes and the recommended follow-up action.
Browse Live Healthy
In partnership with