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Sedentary Lifestyle Has the Same Impact on Your Heart as Smoking Does!!!

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Sedentary Lifestyle Has the Same Impact on Your Heart as Smoking Does!!!

4 min read


A sedentary lifestyle is equally dangerous to heart health, similar to smoking. This article describes the various adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Preetha. J

Published At September 24, 2015
Reviewed AtMarch 12, 2024

Is There Someone Who Stabs Their Own Heart?

Yes, some people are killing themselves in the name of the so-called new modern busy lifestyles and eating habits. Unfortunately, all of this is killing them silently by deteriorating their heart health at a slow but regular pace. Everybody knows that one cannot control the family history of certain genetic heart diseases. These genetics play far less of a role in the heart's wellness; instead, one's preventable bad habits and lifestyle are doing the actual harm.

What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle?

A sedentary lifestyle is an inactive style of life with minimal physical activity. For example, people who spend more time watching television, mobile devices or computers, reading or writing books, and doing office work involving screen time and documentation have sedentary behavior.

Sedentary behavior can cause energy imbalances and various health issues in the long run.

A sedentary lifestyle will not only cause heart disease but can also lead to certain cancers, bone disease, metabolic disorders, anxiety, and depression. Recent research suggests that a sedentary lifestyle significantly contributes to the worldwide burden of chronic diseases.

What Effects Does a Sedentary Lifestyle Have on the Body?

Some of the effects on the body are as follows-

  • Individuals burn fewer calories. They are more likely to put on weight as a result.

  • Due to insufficient muscle use, they may experience a decrease in muscular strength and endurance.

  • Bones can become less strong and contain fewer minerals.

  • It could impact metabolism, making it harder for the body to break down and digest carbohydrates and fats.

  • Individuals might have a weakened immune system.

  • They might have less healthy blood flow.

  • There can be increased inflammation in the body.

  • An imbalance in the hormones could occur.

  • Insulin resistance brought on by sitting increases the likelihood of type 2 diabetes and obesity, two conditions that increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes the growth of neurons in the brain, is produced in response to exercise. Additionally, it counteracts the effects of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol rises in response to a drop in BDNF supply, heightening stress.

  • The amount of fat that the body can metabolize is reduced.

How Can One Know Whether They Have a Sedentary Lifestyle?

One can ask themselves the following questions to learn about their lifestyle:

  • How many hours are spent sitting, lying down, and relaxing daily?

  • Do they take their hearts seriously?

  • How regularly do they see a doctor?

  • How much do they smoke and drink?

  • Do they take the condition seriously if sometimes they feel pain in the chest, dizziness, unexplained fatigue, and shortness of breath with mild to moderate physical activity?

  • How healthy is the diet?

  • What about the ideal weight and waist circumference according to age and height?

Most persons with a sedentary lifestyle have unhealthy dietary choices, lack sports activity, occupations with less physical activity, or do not exercise or work out regularly.

What Are the Eye-Opening Facts About Heart Health and the Sedentary Lifestyle?

  • A person smoking regularly and a non-smoker with an inactive lifestyle share the same risk of developing heart disease.

  • A sedentary lifestyle is one of the primary reasons for bad cholesterol accumulation in the body, diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, and many more diseases.

  • Pain in the chest may be due to many reasons, like muscular pain and gastric issues. But it cannot be taken lightly. It is always advisable to check with the physician to rule out a heart attack.

  • Smokers are at greater risk of heart disease as compared to non-smokers. This is because smoke contains chemical products that lead to the hardening of the blood vessels and coronary artery diseases (arteriosclerosis).

  • Alcohol consumption poses a risk to the heart and liver. Alcoholic cirrhosis (chronic liver damage) is becoming very common in alcoholics and is a major reason for end-stage liver disease.

  • Obesity is the mother of all diseases, and central or truncal obesity (excess weight in the belly and hip region) is a killer for creating an extra burden on the heart.

  • High blood pressure is a direct and serious risk factor for heart disease.

What Are the Lifestyle Modifications for Healthy Living?

  • Keep moving during the daytime and spend less time sitting on the chair. Make use of stairs instead of an elevator or lift.

  • Regularly visit a primary-care physician to diagnose any heart disorders at preliminary stages, and risk factors can be kept in check.

  • It is never too late to quit smoking. The first step in getting out of the valley is to stop digging it. No matter how long one has been a chain smoker, quitting smoking is always beneficial.

  • If the job demands more of a sitting work style and environment, take off from the seat frequently during the continuous spells. It will make a huge difference in the days to come.

  • Maintain the body mass index (BMI), - and nutrition status indicator). With every 10 pounds of weight loss, the blood pressure may decrease by 5 mm Hg.

  • If chest pain, shortness of breath, or radiating pain to the arms, shoulders, jaws, or back of the body, immediately call an ambulance or local emergency service.

  • Diabetic patients need extra care and regular visits to their physicians. They may not feel the typical pain during a heart attack because of neuropathy (nerve dysfunction - a complication of long-standing diabetes).

How Can One Increase Their Level of Activity at Work?

Finding time for exercise during a hectic weekday might be difficult, but the following advice can get anyone started:

  • Walk around and get out of the chair at least once every hour.

  • During a phone conversation, stand up.

  • Look into getting a treadmill or stand-up desk from the employer.

  • Use the stairs rather than the lift.

  • Take a stroll around the building during the lunch break or tea break.

What Is the SLOTH Model?

The SLOTH is a time-budget intervention designed in a practical, equitable, feasible, and economically efficient way, dividing 24 hours of a day into five categories.

  • Sleep.

  • Leisure.

  • Occupation.

  • Transportation.

  • Home.

The SLOTH model guides increasing the physical activities under each category. Except for sleep time, individuals can choose different modalities in each domain to keep themselves active.

For example, during leisure hours, one can try to play outdoors, have a relaxed walk, go to a camp, etc., instead of sitting and watching television or reading books. Friends and colleagues can come together to participate in voluntary work demanding physical activity. People can choose cycling or walking as transport whenever feasible. By avoiding servants and maids, all the family members can share their household duties like regular chores, gardening, cleaning, etc.

The SLOTH model can be implemented individually or as a public health strategy on a larger scale to address the health disasters of sedentary lifestyles and obesity.


Research has confirmed that a sedentary lifestyle is analogous to smoking in affecting heart health. However, there is no standard assessment index for sedentary lifestyles. It is the individual's responsibility and self-report that help them to follow a healthy lifestyle. The heart is the basic pump for life. If this pump fails, life will end. Few unhealthy habits today will grow firmly and become unmodifiable in the future. So wake up today for a better tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is a Sedentary Lifestyle Worse than Smoking?

There have been several studies on people who are sedentary and those who are chronic smokers. The results have shown that people are more unhealthy if they follow a sedentary lifestyle instead of chronic smokers.


How Does a Sedentary Lifestyle Change the Heart?

Being sedentary means living a life that has next to zero physical activities. Such a life results in the deposition of fats and dead cells within the blood vessels of the heart, leading to not a very heart-healthy life. A sedentary lifestyle has the potential to lead to several cardiovascular conditions that may drastically reduce the quality of life.


What Happens if We Eat Healthy but Do Not Exercise?

If a person eats healthy food and follows a healthy diet, but does not exercise nor follow a regular physical schedule, it is possible that the person may gain weight over a period of time since there is no way to burn the calories eaten by the individual.


How Lack of Exercise Leads to Hypertension?

Lack of exercise leads to hypertension, which can be understood as an irreversible condition that leads to an increase in blood pressure. Lack of exercise is able to do this because the blood vessel gets deposited with fats and adipose tissues that make the blood flow difficult within them.


What Happens if We Sit All Day?

A person who sits all day is categorized to be a sedentary person. Such an individual has the potential to be a warehouse of diseases that are related to several systems of the body, especially the cardiovascular system.


What Classifies a Person as Sedentary?

A person can be classified as sedentary if they:
- Do not socialize.
- Spend all day sitting.
- Have excessive sleeping.
- Does not perform any physical activity.
- Have a regular habit of spending days sitting on the sofa.
- Do not leave the house.


How Many Steps a Day Is Considered Sedentary?

A sedentary lifestyle is equally dangerous to heart health, similar to smoking. A sedentary lifestyle will not only cause heart disease but can also lead to certain cancers, bone disease, metabolic disorders, anxiety, and depression. A person who takes less than 5000 steps a day is considered to be living a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle.


How to Stop Being Sedentary?

People can stop being sedentary by:
- Actively socializing.
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Following a heart-healthy lifestyle.
- Making sure to complete daily steps of more than 10000.
- Performing regular physical activities.
- Not spending more than a few minutes sitting at a stretch.
- Exercising on a daily basis.
- Being actively involved in sports.
- Pursuing hobbies.


How Much Exercise Does a Sedentary Person Require?

A sedentary lifestyle is an inactive style of life with minimal physical activity. An individual who is living a sedentary life and is willing to change their lifestyle must dedicate a minimum of one hour each day to physical activities such as walking, running, or an exercise program or regime.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Muhammad Majid Hanif
Dr. Muhammad Majid Hanif



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