The Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle

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sedentary lifestyle effects

Topics Covered in this Blog:

  1. What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle?
  2. What Are the Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle?
  3. Can You Reverse the Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle?
  4. Consult a Vein Specialist at USA Vein Clinics

Compared to former generations, most people are spending an increasing amount of time in activities that require prolonged sitting – at work, at home, in our cars and communities. While this new reality can be difficult to avoid at times, following a sedentary lifestyle can place you at risk for a number of serious health conditions.

One potential negative effect of a sedentary lifestyle is the development of vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency. Vein disease is the underlying cause of varicose veins and spider veins. Results across studies suggest that as many as 17% of men and 40% of women may experience chronic venous insufficiency. When left untreated, vein disease can lead to serious issues like venous ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.

Below, we discuss some of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle and ways to manage or reverse these effects. To learn more about how a sedentary lifestyle can impact the health of your veins, we recommend consulting one of our leading vein specialists.

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What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle?

As technology such as computers and other electronic devices play greater roles in our lives, an increasing percentage of the population is following a sedentary lifestyle. Also known as an inactive lifestyle, a sedentary lifestyle is one in which you spend a lot of your time sitting or lying down. This means getting very little physical activity, which can be detrimental to many areas of your health. However, recent evidence suggests that the long-term health consequences of sedentary behavior are distinct from those associated with a lack of moderate-to-vigorous activity or exercise.

Among other issues, a sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor circulation and the development of varicose veins. When you don’t move around regularly throughout the day, blood flow can become sluggish, and your veins may struggle to carry blood back to your heart. Over time, this can lead to blood pooling in some areas of your body. Most often, the legs, ankles, and feet are impacted.

When blood begins to pool in the lower extremities, you may experience symptoms of vein disease. Common symptoms include leg swelling, cramping, itching, and fatigue. If you are experiencing venous symptoms, we recommend consulting a vein specialist. These signs may be an effect of a sedentary lifestyle.

What Are the Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle?

There are many potential sedentary lifestyle effects. These include weight gain, a greater risk of developing some serious health conditions, and even premature death.

Negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle include:

  • Varicose Veins:If you spend a lot of time sitting or standing, you are more likely to develop varicose veins. While sometimes thought of as only a cosmetic issue, varicose veins can lead to painful and uncomfortable symptoms such as leg swelling, cramping, itching, and fatigue. Varicose veins can also increase your risk for a number of dangerous health conditions, including blood clots and venous ulcers.
  • Obesity: When individuals don’t get enough physical activity, they may start to gain weight. Over time, even small annual gains can add up to significantly impact your waistline and overall health. You should also know that obesity is a major risk factor for varicose veins and vein disease.
  • Diabetes: Another potential effect of a sedentary lifestyle is the development of type 2 diabetes[1]. Physical activity, weight loss, and eating a healthy diet can help prevent or delay the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes contributes to the development of varicose veins and spider veins.
  • Cancer: Research has demonstrated a correlation between incorporating physical activity into your life and experiencing lowered rates of certain types of cancer[2]. These include bladder, breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, kidney, and stomach cancer. To help prevent cancer, you may want to increase your daily activity.
  • Heart disease: Did you know that up to half of Americans may experience some form of cardiovascular disease?[3] For some, this may be related to sedentary lifestyle effects. Keep in mind that exercise can improve your heart health and prevent major adverse events from occurring, such as heart failure and stroke.
  • Poor mental health: If you’ve ever noticed that you feel better mentally, emotionally, and cognitively after exercising, you’re not alone. Physical activity and mental health are intricately linked. Along with helping to prevent disease, exercise can boost your mood, cognitive function, and sleep quality, while also reducing anxiety and depression. However, if you follow a sedentary lifestyle, you will not reap these important mental health benefits[4].
  • Premature death: Although nobody likes to talk about this, a sedentary lifestyle can result in poor physical and mental health. This can sometimes lead to early death.

For more information on what are the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, we encourage you to visit your health provider.

Can You Reverse the Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle?

By implementing certain lifestyle changes, it is possible to reverse many of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Plus, following a healthier lifestyle can improve symptoms of vein disease and reduce the risk of developing additional varicose veins.

Here are our top suggestions:

  • Move around more throughout the day: If you have a sedentary job-i.e. You sit most of the day-, we suggest getting up and moving around as often as possible. You may wish to set a timer for regular reminders, especially when things get busy at work. At times when you are unable to leave your desk to go walk around, try stretching out or massaging your legs and arms to promote better blood flow. Finally, prioritize physical movement during your breaks. You may be surprised at just how energized you feel afterward.
  • Exercise regularly: You probably won’t be surprised that one of the main things you can do to reverse the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle is to exercise regularly. The reason you should talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program, is the elevated risk of a heart attack or cardiac complications. Start slowly and work your way up to longer periods of time. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, five days a week. Try to find an activity that you enjoy, along with recruiting a friend or family member to join you. Many people are most consistent when they opt for exercising in the mornings, before the rest of their day gets in the way.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Achieving and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) can help reduce the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. That said, we understand that weight loss and maintenance can be challenging. If you are struggling, try talking to your doctor for added support and resources. You may benefit from a referral to a medical weight loss program.
  • Eat a healthy diet: To avoid any negative sedentary lifestyle effects, it is important to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet. This should mostly consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Your health will also benefit from limiting added sugars, sodium, alcohol, and caffeine. You should also maintain proper hydration throughout the day.
  • Quit smoking:We all know that smoking has many negative health consequences. It can cause serious damage to your heart, lungs, veins, and many other areas of your body. Ask your doctor about effective smoking cessation programs if you need support quitting.
  • Visit your doctor: To manage or reverse the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle and avoid additional health problems, include regular check-ups with your doctor. They can monitor current health issues, help you avoid others, and provide personalized recommendations on how to improve your health and quality of life.
  • Talk with a Vein Specialist:: If you are concerned that you have vein disease including varicose or spider veins, it’s recommended to get an evaluation. Early intervention leads to the best outcomes and can prevent serious conditions from developing.

One common misconception is that working out daily is enough to offset the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. While exercising regularly can certainly help, it is also important to implement all of the above steps in order to achieve meaningful change.

Consult a Vein Specialist at USA Vein Clinics

If you suffer from varicose veins and other symptoms of vein disease, our vein specialists are available to help. At USA Vein Clinics, we offer a range of minimally invasive, office-based vein treatments that can alleviate painful venous symptoms, reduce your risks of developing dangerous health conditions, and quickly improve your quality of life.

Our experts can also provide guidance on how to manage the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on your veins. To learn more, just give us a call at 888.768.3467 or schedule an initial consultation online. We offer over 100 clinic locations across the country, along with convenient telemedicine options.

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[1] “What Is Diabetes?,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 7, 2022),

[2] “Physical Activity and Cancer Fact Sheet,” National Cancer Institute, accessed August 21, 2022,

[3] “Cardiovascular Disease: What Level of Physical Activity Is Helpful?,” Medical News Today (MediLexicon International), accessed August 21, 2022,

[4] “Physical Activity Is Good for the Mind and the Body.” Physical Activity Is Good for the Mind and the Body – News & Events. Accessed August 21, 2022.

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