Technology–especially computers–has taken over so many aspects of our lives. They make things easier at work, help us get organized better, and provide us with instant access to any sort of information we seek. However, there is a downside to this. With so much time spent sitting in cars or in front of different screens, we don’t move nearly enough and our lifestyles are becoming increasingly more sedentary. This is alarming, especially when it comes to children and their lack of physical activity. For children and adults alike, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to multiple health issues, including those that appear on the skin.

Here are some of the most health issues caused by a sedentary lifestyle, and how they affect the skin:


Out of all the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, obesity is probably the one that stands out the most. This is most likely due to the fact that it may be the cause of all the other health issues a sedentary lifestyle can cause.

Obesity from a sedentary lifestyle

Sitting for prolonged periods of time and not getting enough physical activity means that you spend less energy and burn fewer calories than you would if you’d stand up, walk, or work out. You accumulate body fat and your body mass index (BMI) grows, which can lead to a whole range of other conditions. For example, your metabolism slows down, which has an influence on your body’s ability to break down sugars and fats.

It can even lead to hormonal imbalance, which can then show up on the skin with conditions such as rosacea, hormonal or cystic acne, and even contribute to hyperpigmentation

Obesity can cause an increase in sebum production, resulting in oilier skin. It can also contribute to the formation of cellulite, and slow down the body’s wound healing process; affecting scar tissue formation. Furthermore, the change in weight can contribute to appearance of stretch marks. Obesity can also be associated with a wide range of dermatologic conditions, such as lymphedema, acrochordons and various skin infections. The risks of obesity are great and can go so far to include death, but the good news is that, with some lifestyle adjustment, things can get better. More standing and walking would be helpful, and about an hour or so of moderate physical activity every day would counter the effects of sitting for too long.

Back pain

Back pain is something that is no stranger to aestheticians and massage therapists! Hours and hours of sitting, or working in a stationary position every day can enhance the pressure on a spinal disc, causing its confining membrane to rupture. The contents of the disc are then herniated straight into the spinal canal. There they press against your spinal nerves, which can lead to severe pain and can even be disabling.

Back pain from a sedentary lifestyle

Although there are several other causes for this condition, it’s usually too much sitting while working or driving that results in disc herniations. So, when back pain doesn’t subside, and if it can’t be explained by irregular body position while sleeping, or by working out inadequately; it may mean that the problem is serious and that you should consult a specialist. When it comes to your spine, it’s important to rely on the advice of an expert such as the acclaimed Dr Timothy Steel, or someone closer to you who is also a known and respected expert in this area.

Cardiovascular disease

Although half an hour of daily physical activity can have many benefits on your overall health, if you spend the rest of your day passively sitting at your desk, in your car, or watching TV, then those 30 minutes aren’t nearly enough to sustain you. Long periods of sitting day after day can have such serious consequences as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels. Add to this the above-mentioned obesity, and your problem goes beyond serious.

Some warning signs of cardiovascular disease can also manifest on your skin. Blue and purple skin can mean that your blood vessels are clogged, while waxy bumps on your skin can be a sign of extremely elevated cholesterol levels. Your feet and lower legs can become swollen, which may be a way for your body to tell you you’ve got heart issues. 

Exercising regularly can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Exercising regularly can somewhat lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, if you sit for longer than 10 hours a day, then the risk goes through the roof and the time you spent working out becomes insufficient.

Some general advice would be to cut down on sitting time. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stand for five to eight minutes, moving around for at least two of those minutes. Also, perhaps you can use your phone to count your steps and track your movement, and work on increasing your daily number. 10,000 steps would be ideal, but if you now only get 1,000 steps a day, even getting 3,000 would be an improvement. 

Anxiety and depression

People who work more and sit longer than six hours a day are more likely to feel nervous, hopeless, and tired than those who sit for less than three hours. In addition, a sedentary lifestyle often involves staying inside–watching TV, spending too much time on social media, or playing video games, which can lead to anxiety. It also means you are spending less time outside, in natural light and fresh air.

Anxiety and depression can lead to increased sebum production and inflammation.

Emotional health affects skin health. For instance, stress can intensify any pre-existing skin condition you might have and even cause new ones, such as increased sebum production or inflammation, which encourage the appearance of acne.

And just like you have to work to reduce the effect of stress on your skin, you should also work on improving your lifestyle and making healthier and smarter decisions for your body and mind.

Small changes make a big impact on your skin and health!

By changing your habits and making an effort to introduce more movement into your days, you can improve your health–and hence, your skin–and control the negative effects of sedentary lifestyle. The more time you waste, the more difficult it will be, so start helping yourself today.

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If you work behind a screen or in the treatment room, how do you counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

About the author:

This article was contributed by guest author, Sophia Smith. Sophia Smith is a beauty and style blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer, and food enthusiast. She is very passionate about natural skincare, minimalist wardrobe, yoga, and mindful living. Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including Finer Minds, Blog Sivana Spirit, Bad Yogi, How to Simplify and Carousel. You can find out more about her writing by following her on: Facebook  Twitter  Google +