Sedentary lifestyles: Is technology the solution or the cause?

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How can we better prevent morbidity and mortality risks in a post-Covid context? Professor François Carré, a cardiologist and sports physician, explains how with working from home, we’re more sedentary than ever—but health apps may provide the answer.

A study of 48,440 adult patients found physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe Covid-19 outcomes [1]. Unfortunately, humans in 2022 are more sedentary than ever before. That’s when we spend more than 7 waking hours per day sat or lain down, or when spending 2 hours in these positions uninterrupted. With remote work and the increasing time spent in front of screens, this is becoming a dangerous reality for many people.

We're born to be active

Like breathing, moving is a vital function. The body is genetically programmed to move. Active muscles produce myokines that diminish levels of stress and inflammation, boost immunity levels and the cardiovascular system. The good news is that physical activity does not necessarily mean sport. It can be achieved with one simple step: moving your body.

"Imagine if you stop breathing, you will start feeling bad after a minute for the everyday man and up to 3-5 minutes for sporty people. However, if you are not active, the effect will only be visible after 20 years"

Professeur François Carré Cardiology and Sports Physician at the University Hospital of Rennes

Unfortunately, people’s risk perception of sedentary lifestyles is low. The impact on our health is not as obvious as smoking, consuming alcohol, poor hygiene or an unhealthy diet. By being sedentary, we slowly accumulate ectopic fat—the fat around the abdomen—leading to the development of long-term health problems like cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Prevention is easier than you think

You don’t need to be an athlete to reduce your risk. The recommendation is only around 30 minutes of physical activity per day and moving around for every 2 hours of being sat down. From short walks (and a podcast?) to taking the stairs or stretching, there are many ways to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Just a one-hour stroll every week can increase your life expectancy by 2 years.

And on top of personal well-being, physical activity comes with many benefits. It can:

  1. Decrease the risk of developing a chronic disease by 20 to 30%.
  2. Decrease complications and mortality in case of chronic diseases
  3. Increase life expectancy by 2 to 5 years.

Technology can help motivate

Though motivation can be hard, the recent partnership between ReMark and health & wellness app HUMANOO highlights how technology can help. Regular users of the app saw a 45% increase in physical activity. Integrating SCOR’s BAM algorithm, the app helps users see their progress using the concept of a biological age—an easy-to-understand health indicator based on 5 key metrics including sleep hours and calories burned.

More on the SCOR x HUMANOO x ReMark partnership

As smartphones become ever more important, health and wellness apps are a vital way to motivate users and reinforce positive health habits, whether through gamification, rewards, challenges or social features. Technology—from wearables to apps and smart gym equipment—is an integral part of the future of health prevention. It even has the ability to go beyond just the physical to benefit our diet, sleep and even our mental well-being.

Pr. François Carré, a cardiologist at the University Hospital of Rennes, spoke at a webinar organised by HUMANOO, ReMark and SCOR on March 10, 2022 with Benoit Fagnou, Director of Humanoo, and Jeremy Speed, ReMark’s Head of France & UK

[1] Sallis R, Young DR, Tartof SY, et al. Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2021;55:1099-1105.