Health Risks of A Sedentary Lifestyle


The pandemic impacted every area of life and transformed our ‘normal’ daily routines beyond recognition. One of the biggest and longest lasting changes has been the move to home working, which in turn, has had a significant effect on our physical and mental health.   

According to Bupa’s Wellbeing Index 2022[i], which surveyed over 8000 adults in the UK, one in five (19%) individuals frequently working from home are exercising less often than before they started working from home, while just under a third (31%) are eating more.  

The risks of a sedentary lifestyle are well documented. Studies show inactivity and spending more time sitting is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes[ii] 

Sedentary lifestyles have also been linked to mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and chronic stress during the COVID-19 lockdown.[iii]

Dr Robin Clark, Medical Director for Bupa Global & UK, says: “Lockdowns, gym closures and general uncertainty made it difficult for many people to prioritise their health during the pandemic. And despite restrictions ending, it looks like we’re still struggling to stay active and eat well. An unfortunate consequence is that it may take years for our health to return to pre-pandemic levels.”  

If you feel like your health and wellbeing have taken a knock, Dr Robin Clark has this advice to help you get moving more and feeling good again. 

Focus on positive outcomes 

Positive thinking strategies can be a great starting point for those looking to make lifestyle changes. All too often, people have a negative inner voice and hold themselves to unachievably high standards.  

Instead of criticising yourself for indulging in unhealthy food or not getting out for some exercise, set your mind to a small, achievable goal that will make you feel good.  

Walk it off 

It may sound obvious but finding time to fit more steps into your day is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to up your activity levels. If you’re working from home, and you used to walk as part of your daily commute, why not replicate a similar number of steps in your local area before you log on for the day? You could aim to fit in a walk while on a phone call too, rather making the call from your desk.  

Try something new 

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to everyday life. That’s where a new hobby can really help. Hobbies are a great way to challenge yourself (both physically and mentally), to meet new people, and can help give you a real sense of achievement.  

Set yourself a challenge  

Set yourself a fitness or wellbeing goal to provide you with a focus. You could tap into some of the apps available for beginners looking to move more, such as Couch to 5K or even sign-up to a charity challenge event. These offer a great extra layer of motivation, making you feel good, while also supporting a great cause.   

Make health a priority 

If you have put your health on the back burner or delayed medical appointments, it’s time to act and pick up the phone.  Though it may be daunting, getting back on the road to improved health and wellbeing can only be a good thing. A health assessment is another great way to assess your current levels of fitness and give a good wellbeing overview.  

Private Client by Bupa is helping to support people to feel their best and stay that way too.  

In one simple package with one single point of contact, Private Client by Bupa curates exceptional health and wellbeing services. From award-winning medical cover at home or abroad provided by Bupa Global; to rich, proactive, preventive wellbeing benefits; to a Global Virtual Care service giving you access to video consultations in the comfort of your own home. 


For more information on Private Client by Bupa, visit  bupaprivateclient.com  or call  0371 346 0407.

Calls may be recorded. Private Client by Bupa is a premium service providing expertly curated health and wellbeing plans insured by Bupa Global.

Bupa Global is a trading name of Bupa Insurance Limited and Bupa Insurance Services Limited. Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Bupa Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

[i] Bupa commissioned Censuswide to poll a nationally representative sample of 8,185 UK adults. The data was collected between 18.03.2022 - 24.03.2022.

[ii] Association of Sitting Time With Mortality and Cardiovascular Events in High-Income, Middle-Income, and Low-Income Countries - Sidong Li, BM1; Scott A. Lear, PhD2; Sumathy Rangarajan, MSc3; et al. Published on 15 June 2022 on Jama Network. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/article-abstract/2793521

[iii] The impact of sitting time and physical activity on mental health during COVID-19 lockdown - published in June 2021. The report concluded that sitting time was strongly associated with adverse mental health during COVID-19 lockdown and should be considered in future public health recommendations. The report cites several other studies as well.   Matthew Pears, Susanna Kola-Palmer & Liane Beretta De Azevedo https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11332-021-00791-2

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