Our bodies are designed for movement, and when we neglect this essential aspect of our biology, it can lead to numerous adverse effects on our mental health. Here’s how a sedentary lifestyle can harm our well-being
- Increased Stress and Anxiety: Sedentary lifestyles often contribute to higher stress levels. Physical activity helps reduce the production of stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.
- Depression and Mood Disorders: Studies have shown a strong link between physical inactivity and depression. Regular exercise prevents against stress and milder forms of depression.
- Cognitive Decline: Lack of physical activity can lead to cognitive decline and memory problems, affecting our ability to concentrate and make decisions.
- Sleep Issues: A sedentary lifestyle can disrupt our sleep patterns, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Quality sleep is crucial for mental health.
Incorporating physical activity into a busy work schedule
Now that we understand the potential consequences of a sedentary lifestyle on mental health, let’s explore some practical strategies to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines, even amidst our busy work schedules:
- Start Small: Any physical activity is better than no physical activity. Begin with short, achievable goals. Even a 10-minute walk during your lunch break or a quick home workout can make a difference.
- Schedule It: Treat physical activity as a non-negotiable appointment. Put it on your calendar just like you would a work meeting, and stick to it.
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- Take Breaks: When working at home make it a habit to get up from the chair at least once in 30 min and stand or walk a few steps. When taking a call use a hands-free device and take the call while walking.
- When working from the office also use the above strategy. Use the stairs to your workplace. If you use the bus to commute, consider getting off a stop early and walking the rest of the way.
- Find an Activity You Enjoy: Whether it’s dancing, hiking, swimming, or yoga, choose activities that you genuinely enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with them if they bring you pleasure. Take up a sport
- Accountability Partner: Partner up with a colleague or friend who shares your fitness goals. You can motivate each other to stay active.
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By taking proactive steps to incorporate physical activity into our busy work schedules, we can improve our mental well-being, and enjoy a happier, more balanced life. Remember, it’s not about finding time for exercise; it’s about making time for your mental health.
Author: Dr Rishikesh Behere, Consultant psychiatrist, Ruby Hall Clinic, Hinjewadi