To live a sedentary lifestyle means you spend a good portion of your time sitting or being inactive. Whether your profession requires you to sit for long periods of time, or you are inactive by choice, a sedentary lifestyle carries various health risks. If you live a mainly sedentary lifestyle it is wise to modify your diet to account for the lower daily calorie expenditure.
Sedentary Calorie Requirements
People of all ages who engage in a sedentary lifestyle have lower calorie requirements to maintain their current weight than people who are active. For sedentary females, 1,000 calories per day are required for ages 2 to 3; 1,200 calories for ages 4 to 8; 1,600 for ages 9 to 13; 1,800 for 14 to 18; 2,000 for 19 to 30; 1,800 for 31 to 50 and 1,600 for 51 and over. For sedentary males, daily calories should be 1,000 for ages 2 to 3; 1,400 for 4 to 8; 1,800 for 9 to 13; 2,200 for 14 to 18; 2,400 for 19 to 30; 2,200 for 31 to 50 and 2,000 for 51 and over, says the National Institutes of Health.
A sedentary lifestyle poses several different health risks. Depending on your caloric intake, being sedentary may lead to obesity, heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, poor circulation and cognitive decline in older people.
Fitting in Exercise
Taking opportunities throughout the day to move your body helps prevent some of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Some examples are walking to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from your office and using breaks to go for short walks. You can also wake up 20 or 30 minutes earlier to fit in a workout, perform household chores quickly to burn more calories, do different exercises while watching television in the evening or join an exercise class.
Diet for Sedentary People
If you are maintaining a sedentary lifestyle, choosing foods lower in calories and fat. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you like, plus whole grains and lower fat versions of regular foods. Low-fat dairy and proteins such as lean turkey or chicken helps reduce your caloric intake. Eating smaller portions more frequently keeps your metabolism raised and blood sugar even.
If your sedentary lifestyle has created a situation where you have reached an unhealthy weight, consult your doctor to talk about prescription medication, lifestyle modification or bariatric surgery.
- National Institutes of Health: Estimated Calorie Requirements
- MayoClinic: Fitting in Fitness -- Finding Time for Physical Activity
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Obesity
- National Institutes of Health: Low-Calorie, Lower Fat Alternative Foods
- Health Guidance: What's Wrong With a Sedentary Lifestyle?