About this Research Topic
Humans are increasingly becoming sedentary due to the excessive use of technology and the gradual change of lifestyle from active living to more passive living, including occupational settings. Additionally, in recent times and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers have unintentionally declared war on active and outdoor living in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus. While there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that in many cases this mitigation was more costly than the damage caused by the virus itself, government legislators and public health authorities had no option but to enforce these restrictions in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. Millions of office-type workers, including the education systems and other non-physical types of workers have been mobilized remotely as part of this mitigation. While this may seem like a temporary measure, many now have this false feeling that any job can be done remotely and without the need to leave home. This is indeed alarming, given the risk that sedentary behavior has on health and wellbeing.
Sedentary lifestyles are contributing to as many as five million deaths worldwide each year, and health experts are encouraging people to get active, more than ever. A recent WHO report suggested that lack of physical activity and outdoor living can cause harm to health and wellbeing. The report suggested that due to growing sedentary behavior/lifestyle, the originally recommended physical activity levels may need to be modified.
“This reflects growing scientific evidence linking large amounts of sedentary time to serious health problems and a heightened risk of early death.”, the WHO report added.
Moreover, we have recently shown that university academics and professional staff who spend most of their working hours sitting are at higher risk of developing lower back problems as well as mental health issues, including stress and anxiety, which affect the enthusiasm for work (Hanna, 2019).
We have also shown previously in multiple studies, including published systematic reviews, that lack of physical activity and exercise can increase the risk of Knee and hip osteoarthritis, which in turn lead to increased risk of mental health issues.
In recent times, our aging population has been the focus of healthcare providers and policymakers in an attempt to improve the quality of life of the elderly and reduce health costs associated with the aging process. Given the rise in sedentary behavior due to lockdowns and the shift in lifestyle, this is more likely going to exacerbate physical and mental health issues leading to the age of retirement.
While considering the potential risk and evidence we already have in relation to inactivity and unhealthy lifestyle, more evidence is sought after in order to establish any decline in physical and/or mental health due to this shift in behavior due to personal, lifestyle and/or regulatory and mandatory measures.
Keywords: sedentary lifestyle, sedentary behavior, mental health, aging, shift in lifestyle, physical and mental health, health cost, quality of life, physical activity, health and wellbeing, virtual lifestyle, aging population
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