Addressing the issue of a sedentary lifestyle being harmful to health, Dr Natalie Koh, Consultant, National Heart Centre Singapore @ SKH, Dr Elaine Chua, Associate Consultant, Department of Endocrinology, SKH, and Dr Bernice Liu, Principal Physiotherapist, SKH, shared about the health risks that may be caused by prolonged sitting and tips on leading a more active lifestyle.
Dr Natalie Koh explained that sedentary behaviour is defined as the time spent in activities involving low levels of energy expenditure (1.0 to 1.5 metabolic equivalent tasks (METS) such as sitting, watching television, and driving). Dr Elaine Chua pointed out that physical activity refers to any activity that results in your heart beating faster and breathing becomes quicker and it can be categorised into light, moderate and vigorous intensity. Thus, one can be physically active and meet the guidelines, but still considered to be sedentary if they spend a significant part of the day sitting or lying down. Both being physically active and limiting the time spent sedentary are essential for one's wellbeing. Amongst the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle are obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dr Bernice Liu further shared that poor posture due to prolonged sitting is also linked to back, neck and sciatica pain. With prolonged sitting, the body is not exposed to different movement and load, hence affecting one's coordination and balance, leading to an increased risk of falls and injuries. If one spends a majority of their waking hours sedentary, exercising for just an hour once in a while is not going to negate the effects of prolonged sitting.
Drs Koh and Chua shared tips on how one can live more actively and Dr Liu demonstrated simple exercises that one can do throughout the day.