As the days are getting shorter and colder, you might find yourself bundled up in warm clothes, sitting on a comfy chair for hours, drinking hot chocolate and dreading getting your workout done. You will also witness winter invading your workplace, where slumping into the chairs might become more common than standing or walking. But it is best to stand in the shoes of action because a sedentary lifestyle is the worst thing you can do to your body and knees.
Let's start by bursting the biggest myth about what constitutes an active lifestyle: working out more than four times a week but sitting for many hours in one stretch is actually a sedentary lifestyle. The harm caused by 8 hours of sitting on a couch or chair cannot be reversed by 45 minutes of workout every day. These three harmful and damaging effects of living a sedentary lifestyle will have you stop hibernating and get your motor running:
- Sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity. Obesity might lead to osteoarthritis.
Diminished sunlight during the winter makes serotonin in the brain drop, which can trigger cravings for comforting, sweet carbs. These cravings get stronger as it gets colder. Once you start eating more, you also start overloading your joints. The more weight on a joint, the more stressed the joint becomes, and the more likely it will wear down and be damaged. Every pound of excess weight exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees. So, we suggest putting brakes on the binges, eating a low-carb snack, such as hummus, popcorn, dry-roasted edamame, sunflower seeds, and learning this new mantra: Work. Walk 3 minutes. Work.
- Sedentary lifestyle means less physical activity. Less physical activity means more knee stiffness.
Lack of sunlight during the winter doesn't just make you hungry, it makes you lazy too. Physical inactivity decreases muscle strength and causes knee stiffness and cartilage damage. Even with osteoarthritis, joints require regular motion to stay healthy. Surround yourself with workout gear that remind you to get moving, change to workout clothes after work, and find friends who love group workouts. A simple low-impact workout routine, strength training, or even a 20-minute brisk walk can help you burn those extra calories and keep your joints active.
- Sedentary lifestyles might lead to depression. Depression can increase arthritis pain.
Studies have shown that sitting too much and physical inactivity has worse effects on mental health. Working at a computer for long hours, sitting on a couch to watch television or play video games, or simply sitting in bed crouching over phone or laptop eats away at your mental acuity. The long-term effects of sedentary behavior on mood contributes to depression and anxiety. Having any form of arthritis can have a negative effect on your mental health. And depression could make symptoms of knee osteoarthritis feel even worse, according to a study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Depression also weakens a person's ability to deal and cope with pain. But we know that cold blustery day is weaker than you. Invest in good workout gear, create a powerful workout playlist, and set strong goals to take control of your anxiety and knee pain.