“An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion.” Sir Isaac Newton
Are you sedentary or in motion? Sedentary comes from the Latin word “sedare,” meaning to sit. Motion is movement. Scientists agree that for a healthy life, you should get moving and not spend too much time being sedentary.
Types of Motion
The motion of exercise is divided into three categories:
According to research published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, scientists define these terms based on how much energy you use when performing an activity. The scale starts with the basal metabolic rate, which is the energy used at rest.
This level includes the energy it takes to breathe, keeps your heart beating, and for your body to perform essential functions that keep you alive. When you are psychically active, multiples of the basal metabolic rate (METs) are used to gauge how much the activity you are doing raises your metabolism from your resting state. Scientists use the following METs scale:
- Light – Less than 3
- Moderate – 3 to 6
- Vigorous – Greater than 6
Examples of activities at each level include:
- Low –
- Moderate –
- Washing Windows
- Playing Basketball or Soccer
Motion can include formal exercises like running, playing sports, or an exercise class. The motion also includes getting up and moving through activities like light housework, dancing, or taking a walk around the block.
Don’t Sit Too Long
While regular, formal exercise has many health benefits, even light exercise or movement is essential to a healthy life. Sitting too long is unhealthy. A study by the Columbia University Department of Medicine showed that people who sit for 30 minutes or less at a time have a 55% lower risk of death than those who sit still for longer periods.
A study by the University of Utah School of Medicine showed that two minutes of motion every hour could lower the risk for premature death by 33%. And a study in the Journal of Science and Medicine and Sport found people who engage in light psychical activity increased their life expectancy by three years over people who sat more.
Movement is a crucial part of a healthy life because sitting too much increases the risk for weight gain, chronic diseases, and other health issues. Multiple studies show that being sedentary can lead to:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Muscle Weakness
- Mental Health Problems
- Sleep Issues
People can develop osteoporosis when their bones become brittle from a lack of weight-bearing movement. Being sedentary has been linked to mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Insomnia and other sleep issues can also be a result of a lack of movement and exercise. Because sitting still weakens the body, people who don’t move enough are at a higher risk for falls, especially the elderly.
Even if your job requires sitting at a desk or you are home all day, there are ways to get up and move. Try taking a break from your usual routine and adding these types of light activities:
- Take a walk to the restroom or to get water, or take a walk outside around the block
- Stretch at Your Desk
- Play with Your Dog
- Dust a Room in Your House
To add moderate and vigorous activity to your life, choose something you enjoy and will keep doing. Find a partner or a group to exercise together. Start slowly and build up in length and intensity as you create a healthier life.