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“According to published research, in 1997, 28.1% of 18-year-olds reported back disorders. Approximately 29.5% of the 65 and older reported lower back issues. The same study indicated that in 2013, 29% of those aged 18 or older reported back pain, a 1% increase from 1997. But, nearly 34% of people aged 65 years and older complained of experiencing spinal-related issues.” (Source:

Humans tend to sit for an extended period staring at their computers without taking any rest. Doing so can potentially lead to several health issues, which include chronic diseases and joint pain in the neck, spine, and back. An inactive lifestyle means a poorer quality of health and will increase the chances of morbidity. 

What does it mean to have an inactive lifestyle?

The general recommendation for average adults is to partake in at least 75 minutes of strong intense physical activities per week or 150 minutes of moderate exercises per week. Additional body conditioning or muscle-building activities on two days per week would be ideal. Based on Heart Research Institute (HRI), adults that did not reach the recommended level of exercise will be considered inactive due to the absence of movement and training.

Why worry about it?

With lesser activity, however, fewer calories are burnt, making weight gain more likely.
According to HRI, the human body and internal organs are more efficient when activated. So, humans will gain more weight as they burn fewer calories.
Lacking exercise can increase your chances of chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension, colon cancer, sluggish metabolism, heart diseases, and hormonal imbalance. The body has spent too much time relaxing, excessively consuming food and not moving enough. When the person becomes obese, it will invite other health problems like joint pain, sleeping disorder and stroke.

Based on the World Health Organization (WHO), around 60 to 85 per cent of humans around the globe live a sedentary lifestyle making it a severe public health problem. In Malaysia, that has not garnered enough attention from the media. 

Besides that, the inactive lifestyle will also affect your skeletal structures like bones and spine. There will be a loss of strength and endurance as your muscles will shrink due to the lack of usage. A person may have osteoporosis with a lower bone density and weaker bones. Furthermore, an inactive lifestyle may also lead to problems in your back, especially in the neck area, as it will become stiff and give you neck pain. Being stationary for a prolonged session will make your spine stiff and sore. Even if you are in a relaxed state and a sitting position, you may feel pain as your muscles, spine, and neck are getting pressured.

Having a bad posture, like slouching, is not recommended because it stretches the spinal ligaments too much and pressures the spinal disc by bending it against the chair, reducing the spine’s wear and tear.
Being sedentary does not just affect you physically but your mental well-being too. You may have more emotional swings by feeling irritated, restless and stressed because of the inactivity for an extended period, lack of sleep and busy schedule. Lacking sleep will make you feel moody and may make you forgetful as your mental health decreases.



What actions can you take?

If there are any symptoms of pain in the back or neck or any extended period of fatigue, do consult your nearest available orthopaedic surgeon.

How do you prevent this from happening?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a few preventive measures like doing moderate intensity exercises for up to 30 minutes daily, reducing tobacco intake and eating a healthy diet. Any activity is good enough, such as doing household chores. Other practices include stretching once in a while, climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift and maybe even having a stand-up desk to promote standing, which gives better blood flow.

Habits that can help avoid these problems.

  1. Sit straight and have support on your lower back if you are sitting for a long time
  2. Make sure that the computer screen level is the same height as eye level
  3. Do simple stretches after not moving for a long time once in a while. A good rule of thumb is to stretch around 3-5 mins per hour of sitting.
  4. Doing yoga during your free time helps your body and mind to be active
  5. Get sufficient amount of sleep, at least 7 hours per day