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It has become normal to spend long days sitting at a desk during the week, while commuting is often spent sitting in a car or on a bus or train. Leisure time can also be centred around sitting – watching TV, playing video games, using a computer or other device, sitting at a cafe with friends – all of which contribute to physical inactivity and a lack of exercise.

Global recommendations are for adults to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week. Those who do not get the recommended level of regular physical activity are considered ‘inactive’, as they experience a lack of exercise and movement.

Inactivity and cardiovascular health

A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of a variety of medical conditions. Long periods of sitting have been linked to cardiovascular disease, with the risk doubling. The risk of developing diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other health conditions also increases.

The body and its systems – including the heart and cardiovascular system – are built to work more effectively when upright. Inactivity means fewer calories are burnt, making weight gain more likely, and muscle strength and endurance may be lost.

The metabolism may also change, meaning the body may have trouble breaking down fats and sugars. The immune system and bone strength can all also be affected, and there may be instances of increased inflammation in the body and poorer blood circulation.

The impact

Globally, between 60 to 85 per cent of people lead sedentary lifestyles, and inactivity is one of the main risk factors for death. Worryingly, it is estimated that nearly two-thirds of children are also insufficiently active, which has serious implications for their future health.1

What is HRI doing?

The Cardiometabolic Disease Group undertakes research to improve the detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases through the development of diagnostic markers, predictors and novel therapies for cardiometabolic disorders, including understanding the mechanism underlying metabolic adaptation to exercise training. This will allow for timely intervention to improve the health of the hundreds of millions of people around the world who are at risk of cardiovascular disease.


  1. World Health Organization


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