Aristotle said: "Movement is life, and life is movement!" Who are we to argue with him? And what does it mean for us. Discussed with an expert.

Physical inactivity: the causes of a sedentary lifestyle and its consequences

What it is

It is interesting that space medicine has been dealing with the issues of physical inactivity and inactivity of a person since the 60s of the last century. The widespread lockdown has set the stage for a new wave of research. There are confirmations that “life did not prepare us for this”, which means that the consequences for health (physical and mental) from a decrease in motor activity are the saddest.

In the conditions of work in space, doctors were most worried about the so-called asthenization syndrome of the central nervous system (CNS). Psycho-physical exhaustion was manifested in fatigue , mood volatility, irritability. It was a direct consequence of hypodynamia. If our muscles are not loaded, they degrade - as well as the nerves, which do not receive sufficient stimulation from the work of the muscles.

Today, all of us, who have voluntarily imprisoned ourselves in our home office, are like astronauts, limited by the space of the ISS. But if special doctors work with the conquerors of interstellar space, controlling the physical activity of the wards, then we need a certain willpower to force ourselves to move. Especially if the work does not require it, and there is absolutely not enough time for fitness.

What is hypodynamia? This is the immobility in translation from the Greek language. Hypodynamia is a disease of our time. According to some reports, over the past 100 years, the physical activity of an ordinary person has decreased by 100 times!

Among the main reasons for physical inactivity is also called the habit of the generation of alpha and zoomers  to spend their free time with gadgets at home, and not with friends in nature.

Risk factors for hypodynamia

  • Work in the office or at home mostly at the table.
  • Excess weight.
  • Depression, stress .
  • Some chronic diseases.
  • A lifestyle that is broadcast from childhood.

How office life harms health

It doesn't matter where your computer is located, at home, in a co-working space or in a trendy open space. The main thing is that you are forced to sit behind it for hours on end, practicing almost zero physical activity (trips to the cooler do not count). This means that the risk of hypodynamia increases.

By the way, a curious fact: relaxed sitting at the computer creates a greater load on the spinal column than any activity in an upright position. The fact is that the physiological curves of the spine, resembling the Latin letter S, perfectly perform the spring function. But as soon as you comfortably fall apart in a chair, the S turns into a C. The supporting muscle corset relaxes, and the weight of the body falls on the spinal column.

Are you working on a laptop? Then you have to deal with such a nuisance as "yoke syndrome". The tilt of the head, which is customary for working with a laptop, not only provokes the formation of wrinkles on the neck, but also critically increases the load on it. On the “nape” there is pressure comparable to a load of 25 kg - almost a rocker with full buckets of water. This condition is dangerous because it provokes dizziness , decreased concentration and, finally, pain.

A large static load on an untrained musculoskeletal system (and what should it be like if you follow a sedentary lifestyle) leads to a lot of negative health consequences: from sciatica and intervertebral hernia to tension headaches.

Futurists from the United States have imagined what an office worker will look like in 20 years in the work Colleague of the Future. They created a visual exhibit - an Amy doll, which you would hardly want to be like. Amy has a pronounced hunchback, a sallow complexion, her legs are affected by varicose veins, and her eyes squint blindly.

What does a sedentary lifestyle lead to?

The impact of hypodynamia on health is great. Atrophy from disuse is what awaits our muscles if we do not provide them with a constant load. As a result, the entire musculoskeletal system is warped. Further more:

  • posture deteriorates ;
  • coordination is disturbed;
  • blood flow worsens;
  • stagnation of blood provokes the formation of varicose and hemorrhoids, while the deadly risk of blood clots increases;
  • the work of the cardiovascular system as a whole worsens;
  • internal organs suffer from excessive pressure (in particular, problems with the gastrointestinal tract are provoked);
  • an increased risk of obesity.

Among other things, physical inactivity does not allow you to have a strong immune system and a good metabolism. It even affects mood. The fact is that sport is considered the most natural and useful antidepressant - physical activity stimulates the release of happiness hormones, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin. And sitting in a chair, you won’t earn them!

Surprisingly, the less active life we ​​lead, the faster we get tired and sink into apathy. Studies have shown that even small physical activity in the middle of the day increases tone - you feel a surge of vigor .

With low activity, the brain is less supplied with oxygen and glucose, which means that our cognitive functions suffer. In general, oxygen starvation in itself is an extremely unpleasant condition with a cascade of negative consequences.

Finally, a sedentary lifestyle can age the body at the biological level by almost 10 years! This is what proponents of the telomere theory say. At the same time, physical exercise slows down the rate of telomere contraction, curbing aging at the cellular level.


Studying the consequences of physical inactivity, podiatrists tend to take out the weakening of the muscles and ligaments of the foot and lower leg as a separate point. The sad consequences of this condition are many - from spreading and deformation of the foot, to an increased risk of falls and injuries. A flirtatious "Oh, how awkward I am!" in the long run may result in a fracture of the femoral neck. Although the usual dislocations also do not bring joy.

That is why sedentary people should pay special attention to leg exercises and wearing special orthoses, which act as an additional foot and lower leg simulator. We are talking about orthopedic full contact insoles, made individually from thermoplastic foam. They literally make the muscles work.

How much load do you need every day

According to WHO recommendations, we need at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

And research published in the journal Sport and Health Science suggests that as early as 30 minutes of vigorous walking daily increases immunity, reduces morbidity and mortality from viral infections and acute respiratory infections. During active pastime, the rate of blood circulation increases, and the process of getting immune cells to all organs is accelerated.

Just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (running, Nordic walking) has a positive effect on brain function . Studies have shown that in the hippocampus (involved in the regulation of memory processes), new neural connections are formed during aerobic exercise, which improves memory.

In the midst of a pandemic, scientists have identified a direct relationship between an active lifestyle and a milder course of COVID-19. Just 30 minutes of training triggers the production of an antioxidant in the muscles called extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD). It reduces the risk of developing respiratory failure.

A little life hack for office workers! Sitting at a computer or laptop, periodically perform the following exercise: retract your chin, straightening your cervical lordosis, and at the same time strongly stretch your crown up and your shoulders down. This will keep the head and neck in the most even vertical position and avoid the notorious “yoke syndrome”. Exercise is good to do on a long road by car. Once in a traffic jam, stretch a few times to relax your tense neck and back.

It is useful to have at home, at hand, and a minimum set for classes: a mat, a fitness roll, a balancing pillow. Don't forget to set yourself a reminder to take your mind off work and work out. A few 15-minute approaches per day will be enough! The main thing in this business is constancy!

And, of course, do not forget to stretch your feet daily, which, in conditions of reduced activity, lack the required number of steps. Place a couple of tennis balls by your bed or under your desk and roll them around, giving your feet a good kick. Try picking up small objects with your toes. Finally, work your ankle by moving your legs in the air from a seated position. To make it not boring - write short phrases or sentences with your feet.