Modern life is slowly becoming reliant on periods of sustained inactivity, whether that’s sat down in the office (or home office), lying in bed watching some YouTube on your phone or kicking back to your favourite TV show. This type of lifestyle is what’s known as ‘sedentary’ and it’s not what the human body was designed for!
In this blog, we explore the definition of sedentary lifestyles, their effects and how a scooter can be an ideal way to kick your sedentary habits.
What is a Sedentary Lifestyle?
A ‘sedentary lifestyle’ is a style of living that consists of little to no physical activity. Specifically, sedentary behaviour is when a person is either sitting, reclining or lying down.
The term can often be misconstrued as meaning ‘laziness’ but this is not the case. You can have quite a busy day but if it’s mostly done while sitting at your work desk or at home sat down with your laptop or reading a book you’re still slipping into sedentary habits.
Many of us are probably living sedentary lives without realising it. While also taking into account COVID-19 and the effect of lockdowns in various locations across the world, it’s likely that sedentary lifestyles have become more common.
One of the main culprits of sedentary living is our increased reliance on screens. Most work is desk-based nowadays which means sitting down looking at your computer or phone screen all day. It’s also commonplace after a long day at work to spend the evening winding down while watching TV.
Some of these behaviours are unavoidable as we all need to switch off from time to time. When we find ourselves in these sedentary positions for the majority of the day however, we need to start making some changes to our lifestyle to increase our physical activity.
Wanting to get active but can’t get outside? Try our top indoor strength and balance exercises
Consequences of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Living a sedentary lifestyle has a number of negative effects on both your body and mental health.
The most directly affected area sedentary living has on our bodies is our muscles. If we’re stationary and sat down for the majority of the day we’re not working our muscles much at all, which will eventually cause them to weaken and could lead to atrophy.
Muscles weakening has a knock-on effect which can cause a number of other issues such as worsening balance, osteoporosis or chronic back and neck pain. These are all things that we want to be working to prevent rather than working to amend once we notice them.
As Professor of Kinesiology, Jack Callaghan says ‘It’s the same concept as dehydration during exercise. If you wait until you’re thirsty it’s too late. If you wait until you have pain before you change positions, it’s too late. This pain is hard to get rid of, so you have to be moving and changing positions before it starts.’
Looking for a scooter that's comfortable for taller and heavier riders? Learn more about our TALL models
Sitting in one position for a long period of time can ultimately have significant effects on our posture too. There is an increased awareness of office ergonomics these days, but it’s tough to remember throughout the day, and few people take these lessons in posture through to their evenings.
Our work from home ergonomic situations are likely to be worse than office setups too. Our homes are set up to relax rather than work, as many have found ourselves doing. With all the other distractions that come with working from home, it’s easy to overlook the effect of the working setup on our bodies.
One of the biggest things that is affected by a lack of physical activity is our mental health. The importance of mental health is, fortunately, discussed more openly these days and it’s clear that exercise is a crucial way to help us help ourselves.
Exercise releases dopamine, a chemical to trigger enjoyment in the brain. Getting up and moving about is one of the quickest and easiest ways to help your headspace. There are tonnes of other ways to help your mental health of course, but if you don’t get outside often your world shrinks to just your flat or room in a short period. This can trigger a downfall in your mental health and lack of motivation to get outside, this will be increasingly harder to break.
How to Combat a Sedentary Lifestyle
It’s not all doom and gloom though, as your sedentary habits are quite easy to break. Put simply - the best solution to get out of the routine is to get moving!
Easier said than done, we know, but getting active doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. We aren’t talking about getting up and going for a 5K run to get your blood pumping. A simple, short walk can be all that’s needed to get your muscles active again.
Something as simple as standing at your desk for a brief period rather than sitting down the whole 9-5 will be helping your body.
The prospect of a 'workout' itself is enough to put a lot of people off getting active, so maybe we need to adjust the way we see exercise. ‘Exercise’ comes in many shapes and forms, you don’t need to hop into the lycra and set off for over an hour to be feeling the benefits of getting active.
Learn what Sara Tomkins of GreaterSport is doing to help Manchester get active in The Swifty Podcast #6
One of the many things putting people off workouts is the perceived amount of time it will take. A lot of us are in the mindset that the way we get active is to head to the gym.
With getting ready, travelling to and from the gym, showering after, as well as your actual workout it can feel like a few hours of your free time will be gone. This is the kind of thinking we need to get out of!
Rather than seeing exercise one or two lengthy gym sessions or a week the best way to get out of your sedentary nature is to get yourself up and moving throughout the day. We want to avoid these long sustained periods of not moving.
Putting aside 10 / 20 mins a few times a day to move, stretch yourself out and quickly mobilise your muscles is going to do the world of good!
Head outside to a nearby park for your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the lift in the office, stand up while you're on the phone or have a little stretch while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. There are plenty of ways we can inject exercise into the day, you just need to get creative with it.
Getting active easily with a kick scooter
Scooters are the perfect way to help you counteract your sedentary lifestyle habits. There’s not a mode of transport that is so accessible, quick and fun to hop on!
There is no set pace on a kick scooter, you ride as fast and comfortably as you want to. If you’re just looking for a gentle scoot to get some fresh air, you can! Scooting has low impact on joints, meaning it’s accessible to many people that may otherwise be put off by running, or similar higher impact activities.
Even if you’re just popping to the shop, doing so with your scooter will help to raise your heartbeat that bit more, while also saving you time compared to walking!
Conversely, if you’re looking to really put yourself to work you can do so on a scooter without having to put hours aside.
Scooting is a great way to make the most of a HIIT workout. Whether you’re going all out along the flat or testing yourself to tackle a steep hill, taking to a scooter will give you a workout unlike anything else you’ve tried.
As we discussed earlier, posture is often a victim of sedentary living and scooting is a sure-fire way to get yourself out of that rut. There are not many ways of travelling that allow you the upright, open shoulder posture that scooting does. Our TALL models are suitable for riders up to 6’5’’ so a huge array of people can make the most of this ‘standing tall’ way of moving.
Getting Active on the Commute
So, getting active is how we can kick our sedentary habits, but what can we do if we simply don’t have the time in the day to put aside for even a little exercise?
If this is the case, then we need to find ways to integrate exercise into our established routines. Often the best way to do that is on our commute.
For many getting active on the commute will mean walking to work which in turn throws up its own issues. If you’re used to driving or getting public transport, then a walk is going to add an hour or two onto your working day.
Again, this is a great time to consider the benefits of a kick scooter. Scooting is quicker than walking so you can go further in a shorter time, you’re in control of your own journey so can avoid crowded areas etc and getting active puts you in a good mood to start the day!
As opposed to turning to a bike for the active commute, with a scooter like the SwiftyONE the hassle and concerns based around where to lock your bike up need not be an issue! The SwiftyONE simply folds up and can be easily slotted under your desk.
One time sedentary habits are seen as unavoidable is during injury recovery. Learn how some of the Swifty community has turned to kick scooters in order to help their injury rehab.
If you work too far away to commute the entire distance as active travel, then a scooter can still be an asset to your trip. With SwiftyONE’s foldability, it makes it easy to take onto public transport if you rely on it still. A scoot to the bus stop will save you time and you can get off the bus a couple of stops earlier than usual and scoot the rest of the way - the ideal last-mile solution.
One of our customers, Allyson, found that turning to a kick scooter has ultimately inspired her to avoid the bus from her commute completely!
If you’re driving to work, then again the small profile of the folding SwiftyONE means it can easily fit into the boot of your car. Save some money on petrol (and city centre parking fees) by finding somewhere a bit further away to park and scooting the rest of the way in! We have explored the benefits of combining electric vehicles parking outside the city and commuting the rest of the way on scooters in more detail HERE.
With so many of us working at home now we’ve lost the activity the commute provides. As hated as standing in a busy train was by us all that was a crucial time for our muscles to get working. Even if your commute is just from the bedroom to the kitchen nowadays we should try to make some time to get moving before we sit down.
Maybe it means a quick stroll or scoot outside before you get down to work, or a quick set of star jumps before you log on. We want to start the day with movement, so we are setting up these positive habits!
A Scooter Fleet for the Company to feel the benefits
The working landscape is completely different nowadays as a result of COVID-19. Companies want to be seen to help staff out where possible and encourage positive habits. Perhaps a fleet of scooters for your staff is what you’re looking for?
Providing a sustainable and active mobility solution is the ideal way for a business to set an example to their staff. Giving them the opportunity to get active during the day is a great way to help develop positive practices as we all find ourselves adapting to new routines.
Swapping car and taxi rides for active scooter miles will ultimately be saving you money on cars and taxis and is a great way of keeping staff off public transport. On top of this, switching to active travel options will be reducing your business’ carbon footprint, likely saving a lot of time - scooting is probably the fastest way to get across town!
Looking to help get your staff active? Learn about our kick scooter fleets
As we all find ourselves changing the way we live to fit around the ‘new normal’ there’s surely room in everyone’s lives for a bit more activity. And while sedentary habits are easy to slip into and are common in a lot of our lives, being aware of what they are is half the battle to breaking them.
Baby steps towards a positive goal are the key and if you can find a way to fit movement into your day that you enjoy rather than seeing it as a chore, then you’ll be doing yourself a world of good. Turning to ways of moving outside of the ‘norm’ like a kick scooter might just give you the boost you need to get active again.
Remember, exercise comes in many forms and there is no right or wrong. Whatever gets you moving throughout the day and has you feel the benefits of is putting you on the right path to kick your sedentary habits!
I was an avid cyclist for many years riding 3-4,000 miles a year. I always suffered from saddle soreness and eventually began developing wrist and neck problems related to my cycling. Eventually I switched to recumbents and for awhile things looked promising. Sadly that happy state of affairs didn’t last as I began to experience severe leg cramps as a result of the seating position on my short wheelbase recumbent. Recently I switched to an inexpensive kick scooter to see if scooting appealed to me. So far it has and I am thinking seriously about moving up to a Swifty Zero. One of the things that has really appealed to me is that with a kick scooter you can stop whenever you wish with no penalty. On an upright or a recumbent it is essemtial to keep.up,a steady pace. Stopping not only interupts that pace it forces you to undergo the challenges of a restart. On an occasional basis this is workable but stopping and starting repeatedly on an upright or a recumbent is simply not enjoyable whereas on a kick scooter it is no problem at all.