The health impacts of a sedentary lifestyle

By: Sophia Lin

Raffles Hotel Arcade and Star Vista
Posted on: 18 Jun 2024

It’s no secret that many Singaporeans work long hours in the office, prioritising task completion. According to the Ministry of Manpower, the average weekly working hours for Singaporeans stand at 44.1. While this dedication supports business goals, it also heightens the risk of adopting a sedentary lifestyle.

What is a sedentary lifestyle?

A sedentary lifestyle is characterised by prolonged periods of sitting or lying down with minimal physical activity. Common workplace sedentary behaviours also include extended periods of desk work, attending meetings, and commuting.

Why are Singaporean workers falling into sedentary lifestyles?

The prevalence of sedentary lifestyles among Singaporean workers is a multifaceted issue influenced by various factors. Research reveals that Singapore ranks among the nations with the longest average working hours globally, with prolonged work hours ingrained in the prevailing work culture. As such, the pervasive culture of overwork leaves little room for physical activity, exacerbating the adoption of sedentary habits.

The effects of a sedentary lifestyle on health and productivity

Having a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to a variety of health risks

Physical health 

  • Cardiovascular health: Prolonged sitting can contribute to poor circulation, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels, which could increase the likelihood of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • Metabolic issues: Lack of physical activity could lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, and obesity, which are major contributors to diabetes.
  • Musculoskeletal problems: Long hours of sitting can potentially cause musculoskeletal problems, including back pain, poor posture, and joint stiffness.
  • Respiratory issues: Reduced physical activity can also lead to decreased lung capacity and the possible increased risk of developing conditions like sleep apnea.

Mental health 

  • Depression and anxiety: There is a strong link between a sedentary lifestyle and mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety. The lack of physical activity can negatively impact mood and stress levels.
  • Cognitive function: Sedentary behaviour could potentially impair cognitive function, affecting concentration, memory, and productivity.


Strategies on how to overcome a sedentary lifestyle

It’s never too late to adopt healthy habits and incorporate changes into your work routines to counteract sedentary behaviour. To help you get started:

1. Prioritise regular breaks and movement

Encouraging regular breaks and movement throughout the workday can help reduce sedentary behaviour. Simple actions like standing up, stretching, or taking short walks can make a difference in overall activity levels.

2. Incorporate physical activity into daily routine

Incorporating physical activity into the daily routine is essential. Consider starting the day with a brief exercise session, such as yoga or a brisk walk, before getting ready for work. During lunch breaks, opt for activities that promote movement, like walking to a nearby park or engaging in a short workout. Active commuting, like walking to work, if feasible, can also increase daily physical activity levels.

3. Harness technology

Technology can also be valuable in supporting a more active lifestyle. Using fitness apps or wearable devices, like smartwatches, to track daily activity levels can add more motivation to increase your daily physical activity. You can even set reminders on your device to prompt movement, ensuring you take regular breaks to stand up, stretch, or walk.

The role of annual health screenings in Singapore

Annual health screenings here in Singapore can help in detecting early signs of health issues, enabling timely interventions to mitigate the progression of potential health problems. Please visit a healthcare professional to discuss as actions we take today will affect your overall health tomorrow. recommend specific exercises and dietary changes to help manage the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

For more healthcare insights, check out our roadmap for healthy living and longevity.

Raffles Hotel Arcade Star Vista