- Dr Frantz Pierre-Louis & Lloyd Pierre-Louis
Sedentarity and Health
Physical inactivity, laziness, etc., all these terms are synonymous to one of the most dangerous (but yet too often neglected) disposition of many people health-wise: sedentarity. Shortly explained, sedentarity is the state of being sedentary: inactive, seated, desk-bound, etc., for a long period of time and for no justifiable reasons.
Before going any further, let’s be clear right from the start: there is no harm in sitting for having a well-deserved rest after a long strenuous workout; similarly, being desk-bound for a couple of minutes or more to attend a class or complete a work project is reasonable or even necessary to avoid failing the class or getting fired… There is nothing inherently wrong with being temporarily “sedentary” per se in these situations. However, it is important to actively nurture the intention, the awareness of keeping moving as much as possible, and whenever possible, to ward off the vicious unhealthy effects of sedentarity clearly stated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as follows:
“Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety. According to WHO, 60 to 85% of people in the world—from both developed and developing countries—lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the more serious yet insufficiently addressed public health problems of our time. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of children are also insufficiently active, with serious implications for their future health.”
That being said, the most disturbing aspect about this issue is that our current world is increasingly built around mechanisms which sustain and even encourage sedentary lifestyles among literally all strata of the world’s population: most 9 to 5 regular jobs often require employees to be desk-bound; it is not even necessary nowadays to take a walk to go pay bills at the bank around the corner, because e-payment using electronic devices is basically the norm; Besides the very exclusive world of professional athletes, where athleticism is lauded, in the general population, there is this misconception that any job that requiring intense physical work is inferior and therefore not desirable. Today misinformed parents promotes this fallacy with their kids which pseudo-innocent yet impactful statements such as “ be a nice kid, take your tablet and please go to your room instead of going outside to waste your time with bad kids in the park which is dangerous” While there is a valid parental concern behind such statement which is also reflection of a deeper societal issue , we can’t help but worrying about the grim future of a society where kids are encouraged to have fun alone instead spending time together, where kids are taught to be scared of people and more to relevant to this issue where physical activity is discouraged. It is time for parents to teach kids to communicate with each other face to face in open spaces instead of doing so on the internet; of course we need to restore trust so parents feel safe send their kids play hoops, soccer or hockey at a park or rink nearby but the message must be unambiguous "get out and MOVE, go meet your fellow human beings "
In conclusion, technology, evolution, innovative ways of functioning are always welcome due to their potential to be good. However, at the same time, common sense should always prevail. We are bipedal individuals meant to live in communities, designed to move, walk and run. We need to be vigilant to not allow technology and progress to jeopardize natural and community building habits which, in the end, simply make us healthy.