Because of the pandemic, many people—the aged, teenagers, and adults—have found themselves getting used to sedentary lifestyles. A lot of us have gradually turned our once-in-a-while sedentary behavior into an everyday lifestyle. Sadly, this way of life is one that gives us relaxation today but a ton of regret later on. In this article, we discuss some essential statistics and facts about a sedentary lifestyle that are crucial for you to know, such as:

  • 28% of adults globally are considered physically inactive. 
  • 44% of Americans report doing no moderate to vigorous activity.
  • Sedentary behavior increases a woman’s chance of idiopathic infertility by 3.6 times. 
  • About 6% of global deaths are linked to a lack of physical activity. 
  • A lower sitting time lowers the risk of early death by 55%. 

There’s a lot more to find out about what harm a sedentary lifestyle brings. To give you more in-depth information, here’s everything you need to know.

Table of Contents

Sedentary Lifestyle Statistics and Facts

The pandemic lockdowns and work-from-home situations have definitely played a big role in the physical activity of Americans and others around the world. However, whether the blame is on the COVID-19 home bound lifestyle or one’s personal preference, the dangers of having too little physical activity spare no one. Over 60 to 85% of the entire population worldwide is not physically active. This means that there is a large sum of people all over the world who are at risk of serious health conditions. 

American Heart Association research revealed that since the 1950s, the number of sedentary jobs has soared to 83%.

About 43% of all jobs in the US are now in highly sedentary service sectors, and office workers spend more than 89% of their time sitting. They are more likely to get illnesses and diseases as a result of their inactivity.

Physical inactivity increases with age, and 28% of Americans over the age of 50 do no physical activity. 

25% of Americans aged 50-64 were physically inactive, 27% of 65-74 years olds were inactive, and 35% for those aged 75 years old and above. Physical inactivity was higher in women than men. Educational attainment also played a role, as inactivity was also more prevalent in individuals with lower educational levels. 

Teenagers are as sedentary as 60-year-olds. 

A study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health presented that the activity levels of 19-year-olds and the elderly are comparable. It showed that the highest activity levels were from ages 20 years old and above. At this age, they have increased physical activity in the morning, which may be due to working full-time.

6% of deaths worldwide are associated with insufficient physical activity. 

Physical inactivity ranks fourth among the leading risk factors of global mortality. 6% of deaths that are caused by cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure are results of physical inactivity. The study also showed that physical inactivity is implicated in 21-25% of breast cancer and colon cancer cases.

Individuals who sit for less than 30 minutes per day have 55% lower risk of early death. 

A study of 8,000 adults showed that people who sit for less than 30 minutes have a 55% lower risk of early death, while individuals who sit for more than 90 minutes have already increased their risk of early death two-fold. The study indicated that no matter how active you are the rest of the day, the time spent sitting still increases the risk. However, people who are physically active still have better chances of living longer than those who aren’t.

Physical inactivity is linked to a two-fold higher risk of severe Covid-19.

In 48,440 adults diagnosed with Covid-19, patients that were physically inactive had a 1.2 times greater risk of hospitalization or being admitted to the ICU. Patients who were inactive also had a 1.3 times higher chance of dying from Covid-19 than those who were physically active.

At a global level, physical inactivity is 10% higher in women than in men.

358 surveys across 168 countries showed that among 1.9 million participants, global inactivity was at 27%. Women were 10% more physically inactive than men overall, and in some countries, women were 20% less active than men. According to the study, if the current trend persists, we will not meet the 2025 global activity target, which aims to reduce physical inactivity by 10%. 

Sitting Statistics

Work-from-home jobs, online distance learning, and increased leisure time have made way for the world to sit down for long durations. The sitting time of people in the US is higher than in most European countries. Americans also have the shortest life expectancy than other richer countries all over the world. 

One in four American adults sits for more than 8 hours a day. 

According to a study conducted in 2018, four in ten adults have insufficient physical activity, and one in ten reports both a high sitting time and lack of physical activity. The evidence shown in the study suggests that the risk of premature mortality is higher in people with high sitting durations and who are physically inactive. 

The global average sitting time for adults is 5 hours a day.

Data on sitting time collected from 62 countries showed a mean sitting time of 5 hours per day. The values for adults in each country varied, ranging from 2 hours up to 10 hours per day. 

People in higher-income countries sit for 60% longer each day than those from middle-income countries. 

A 2020 study of over 7400 records found that residents of high-income countries had a record of about 5 hours of sitting time, whereas those in middle-income countries averaged only 3 hours sitting each day.

Sitting Disease Statistics

Long hours spent sitting every day has been long linked to numerous serious health conditions. Sitting disease is the term used to associate all 34 diseases that can arise as a result of excess sitting. 

Too much sitting can increase your risk of colon cancer by 24%.

Individuals who spend most of their time sitting during the daytime have a 24% increased risk of getting colon cancer than those with a low record of sitting hours. According to researchers, one reason may be due to the consumption of unhealthy snacks while being inactive and watching television. 

Sitting for more than 4 hours per day compromises metabolic health. 

Adults may meet public health guidelines on physical activity, but if they still sit for long durations, their metabolic health remains compromised. Findings presented from 11,000 participants showed that self-reported TV viewing time was linked to undiagnosed abnormal glucose metabolism and metabolic syndrome. Participants who watch television for four hours or more a day showed the strongest link to metabolic health conditions. 

Sedentary behavior reduces women’s fertility by 3.6 times, and physical inactivity reduces fertility in men by 2.2 times. 

A case-control multi-centric observational study revealed that a lack of physical activity and high-fat mass were associated with infertility in men. The various elements of physical activity such as time, intensity, frequency, etc. were taken into consideration for the study as well as the participants’ time spent sitting. In women, infertility was associated with sedentary behavior, high body fat, and low free-fat mass. 

People who sit for more than 7 hours a day are 47% more likely to develop depression.

Women who sat for more than 7 hours a day and had no physical activity were shown to have more depressive symptoms than those who sat for less than 4 hours a day and were physically active. The increase of depression diseases among these women is up to 47%. The study concluded that physical activity can alleviate and prevent depressive symptoms. 

Sitting all day boosts the risk of cardiovascular disease by 147%.

In eighteen studies totaling more than 794,000 participants, the greatest sedentary time was associated with a 147% increase in cardiovascular events, while there is a 90% increase in cardiovascular mortality. 

Sitting and Sedentary Lifestyle FAQs

Approximately 25% of US adults live a sedentary lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical inactivity is more common in women than men. Older adults live a more sedentary life than younger adults, and social support from family and friends has been linked to regular physical activity. All states and territories had 15% or more adults that were living a sedentary lifestyle.
Globally, 60 to 85% of people are considered sedentary, both in developed and underdeveloped countries. This makes sedentary behavior a serious world health issue that is insufficiently addressed. About two-thirds of children lack physical activity, which makes them at an increased risk of health conditions in the future.
No. With the evidence, the magnitude of health risks and premature deaths that comes with sitting and smoking, the two cannot really be compared. The risks of chronic diseases are significantly higher than those associated with sitting. Individuals who spend long hours sitting have about 10-20% increased risk for cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Smoking, on the other hand, is linked to 80-90% of lung cancer deaths. However, sitting is still linked to numerous alarming health risks and should still be taken seriously.
A sedentary lifestyle negatively affects both one’s physical health and mental health. In living a sedentary lifestyle, you are also increasing all causes of mortality such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Your mental state is also affected, as you have a higher chance of developing depression and anxiety. These chronic diseases which are the most common causes of death in every part of the world are driven by four leading factors, and a sedentary lifestyle is one of them.

Final Thoughts

A sedentary lifestyle induces more serious health risks than we may have realized. Additionally, the lack of physical inactivity is seen in many parts of the world. This makes a sedentary lifestyle prominent all over the world, which poses a great threat to many lives. There are approximately 2 million deaths per year attributed to physical inactivity. With the data available now, the rate of physically inactive people all over the world is highly concerning. 

Awareness of the effects of a sedentary lifestyle must be widely spread in order for more people to be informed about taking preventive measures. The WHO recommends that individuals do some form of physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Whether it’s taking a walk, riding a bicycle, or home workouts, all these help in preventing the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. 

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Eric Moore

Eric Moore is the owner of Overheard on Conference Calls. As a corporate veteran, he's seen and heard it all. And when it comes to office chairs, desks, and accessories, he's used it all. As a former office furniture sales rep, he bring his expertise to provide readers the knowledge to choose the right products for them.