May 24, 2024

Staying seated behind the desk for most of the week should not be a reason not to be physically active.

A doctor specializing on hypertension management and occupational safety recommended that people who work in offices, students, those who are wheelchair-bound, and even those who mostly stay at home should remain active by devoting a few minutes exercising – even while they are seated.

In the recently concluded webinar titled “Flex your muscles staying fit even while seated,” organized by the National Nutrition Council and the Cordillera Media Educators on Nutrition, Dr. Rona Palaganas-Bautista emphasized the benefits of exercising to both physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the risks associated with being sedentary.

The Philippine National Guidelines on Physical Activity (PNGPA) recommended the duration and different forms of physical activities that can be performed depending on age:

For children (five to 12 years) and adolescents (13 to 20 years old) – 60 minutes daily; 30 to 60 minutes daily for adults (21 to 45 years old); and 30 minutes daily for older adults (46 to 59 years old); young old (60 to 69 years old); middle old (70 to 79 years old) and vintage old (80 years old and up).

The World Health Organization, on the other hand, recommends 150 to 300 minutes moderate physical activity per week for adults and 60 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per day for children and adolescents.

But many are not able to stay physically active and have even worsened at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Citing the 2021 study made by an adult milk brand, Bautista said 67 percent of Filipinos are moving less due to quarantine protocols, lockdown regulations, and the work-from-home setup.

She also cited a 2019 study of the WHO that showed that the Philippines had an overall physical inactivity prevalence of 93.4 percent making the country second among 146 countries in the world with the most physically inactive adolescents. South Korea is the first. 

Health risks of a sedentary lifestyle are obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic diseases, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, falls, muscle and joint pains, depression and anxiety.

Bautista added sitting all day weakens the leg and gluteal (the buttocks) area or the muscles responsible for walking and stability, appearance of varicose veins and swelling of the ankles due to poor circulation, weight gain due to poor digestion resulting in and fat and sugar retention in the body, weakens the back and hips, results in poor posture, back and neck pain, and stiff shoulders.

Exercises can be done while seated such as neck and shoulder stretch, spinal twist, chest expander, knee and hip bends, triceps dip, desk push up, leg raises, arm curls, Russian twist, and deep breathing.

Exercises may also be done in between breaks at work or in school.

Benefits of regular exercise are it enhances the mood, helps in weight loss, strengthens muscles and bones, boosts energy, improves skin health and memory, gives better sleep, boosts mental health, enhances sex life, reduces body aches, and generally leads to a longer life. – Rimaliza A. Opiña