The negative effects of sedentary behaviour – a warning to all gamers!

  • Research shows sitting for extended periods leads to increased risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes
  • An increasingly common example of sedentary behaviour is video gaming due to modern technological advances
  • Dr. Gladys Onambele-Pearson, Reader in Human Muscle and Tendon Physiology, gives her advice on how to combat the negative effects of sitting

One of the biggest issues with gaming, is that it is done sitting down. This means it is included in something called sedentary behaviour. The Sedentary Behaviour Research Network, (SBRN) define sedentary behaviour as, ‘any waking behaviour characterised by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture’. In simpler terms, this means that any time someone is sitting or lying down, they are performing sedentary behaviour.

According to Joe Leech, an Australian dietitian with a master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, “over half of the average person’s day is spent sitting, doing things like driving, working at a desk or watching television.” He also states that office workers may spend up to 15 hours per day sitting. In comparison, agricultural workers only sit about 3 hours per day. You can view the full article HERE.

We spoke with Dr. Onambele-Pearson, Reader in Human Muscle and Tendon Physiology, about various topics, such as the negative effects of sedentary behaviour, her advice on how to regulate this and her own experience with her son and how she is trying to change his habits. She also stated that “sitting is the new smoking”.

Dr. Onambele-Pearson warns that, despite having a healthy lifestyle, too much sedentary behaviour can lead to significant health deterioration. “Even if you are physically active and go to the gym on a regular basis but then you come home and sit in front of the TV for a couple of hours, it can lead to a significant deterioration in your health. It is so important to have regular movements when you are sitting or lying down”.

Statistics from the British Heart Foundation’s 2017 Physical Inactivity Report, which can be found on their website, state that ‘The impact of physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles also weighs heavily on UK healthcare, estimated to cost as much as £1.2 billion a year’.

Sedentary Behaviour Risk

Dr. Onambele-Pearson also gave advice to people who are performing sedentary behaviour. Whether you have an office job, watching TV at home or if you are sat down gaming, it is extremely important to try and have regular breaks. “We advise that for every 30 minutes of sedentary behaviour, their needs to be 2 minutes of change during that time – so 28 minutes sitting or lying and 2 minutes of movement. The 2 minutes of movement is enough of a physiological change to disrupt the negative effects which have started”.

“I am currently trying this technique with my son in order to try and reduce the negative effects when he sits down watching TV or playing video games. He really enjoys playing them and I don’t mind him playing, but I feel it is important for him to make regular movements while playing. I recently bought him an egg timer to try and regulate this behaviour. It doesn’t have to be an egg timer, you can use anything to do this – an iWatch, smartwatch or phone is fine. As long as you don’t just hit the snooze button when the reminder goes off!”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, ‘The simplest change you can make to improve your heart health is to replace sedentary behaviour with lighter-intensity activities like walking’. It is vital to keep physically active and reduce sedentary behaviour to reduce the possible health risks it can cause. We understand gaming is a hugely popular hobby but please take on board this expert advice and information offered to reduce the risk of significantly damaging your health.

Health recommendation infographic
These are some facts from the British Nutrition Foundation about the importance of physical activity.






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