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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Increases in sedentary behaviors such as watching television are characteristic of a sedentary lifestyle

Sedentary lifestyle is a medical term used to denote a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity.[1] A person who lives a sedentary lifestyle is known as a couch potato in pop culture. It is commonly found in both the developed and developing world and characterized by sitting, reading, watching television and computer use for much of the day with little or no vigorous physical exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to many preventable causes of death.


Health effects

A lack of physical activity is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide.[2] Physical inactivity is estimated to cause 1.9 million deaths globally.[3]

A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can contribute to:


One response that has been adopted by many organizations concerned with health and environment is the promotion of Active travel, which seeks to promote walking and cycling as safe and attractive alternatives to motorized transport.[13] Given that many journeys are for relatively short distances, there is considerable scope to replace car use with walking or cycling, though in many settings this may require some infrastructure modification.

A couch potato is a person who spends most of his or her free time sitting or lying on a couch. This stereotype often refers to a lazy and overweight person who watches a lot of television. Generally speaking, the term refers to a lifestyle in which children or adults don't get enough physical activity.


It is characterized by sitting or remaining inactive for most of the day with little or no exercise.

Lack of exercise causes muscle atrophy, i.e. shrinking and weakening of the muscles and accordingly increases susceptibility to physical injury. Additionally, Physical fitness is correlated with immune system function[14]; a reduction in physical fitness is generally accompanied by a weakening of the immune system.

Despite the well-known benefits of physical activity, many adults and many children lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle[15][16] and are not active enough to achieve these health benefits.

In the 2008 United States American National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 36% of adults were considered inactive.[17] Additionally 59% of adult respondents never participated in vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week.[17]

The actual term "couch potato" was first coined in 1976 by Tom Iacino, a friend of American underground comics artist Robert Armstrong. In the early-1980s, he registered the term as a trademark with the U.S. government; he also co-authored a book with Jack Mingo, called The Official Couch Potato Handbook, which delves into the lives of couch potatoes.[1] [2]

The term eventually entered common American vocabulary, generally defining one who unceasingly watches television. The phrase was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1993.[citation needed]

Popular culture

  • Various activities have been designed for the couch potato, including a type of investment portfolio ("Couch Potato Portfolio")[3], and fantasy football leagues.
  • Greyhound dogs, who are well-known for their sprinting ability but otherwise require little exercise, are sometimes called "forty-five mile per hour couch potatoes" by adoption and rescue agencies.[4]
  • Music artist "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Couch Potato" (a parody of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem) describes him watching hours upon hours of television, "until [his] legs are numb, [his] eyes bloodshot."
  • The phrase has coined the spin-off mouse potato (or sometimes computer potato), meaning one who spends too much time in front of a computer.
  • Couch Potatoes was the name of a game show hosted by Double Dare host Marc Summers.
  • Couch Potato was a Sunday morning kids TV show aired on the ABC in Australia in the 1990s.

See also


  1. ^ "Prevalence of Sedentary Lifestyle". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1991. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ Lopez AD, Mathers CD, Ezzati M, Jamison DT, Murray CJ (May 2006). "Global and regional burden of disease and risk factors, 2001: systematic analysis of population health data". Lancet 367 (9524): 1747–57. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68770-9. PMID 16731270. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Physical Activity". World Health Organization. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Daniel M. Landers. "The Influence of Exercise on Mental Health". President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Retrieved February 05, 2010. "The research literature suggests that for many variables there is now ample evidence that a definite relationship exists between exercise and improved mental health. This is particularly evident in the case of a reduction of anxiety and depression." 
  6. ^ "Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases". United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Physical inactivity a leading cause of disease and disability, warns WHO". World Health Organization. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  8. ^ Flicker, Leon; McCaul, Kieran A.; Hankey, Graeme J.; Jamrozik, Konrad; Brown, Wendy J.; Byles, Julie E.; Almeida, Osvaldo P. (January 27, 2010). "Body Mass Index and Survival in Men and Women Aged 70 to 75". Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (John Wiley & Sons) 58 (2): 234–241. Retrieved January 29, 2010. "Being sedentary doubled the mortality risk for women across all levels of BMI but resulted in only a 28% greater risk for men". 
  9. ^ "Obesity and Overweight for Professionals: Causes". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Overweight and Obesity: What You Can Do". Office of the Surgeon General. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Exercise and Bone Health". National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 2009. Retrieved February 01, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Osteoporosis - Frequently Asked Questions". United States Department of Health and Human Services. 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 
  13. ^ "KidsWalk-to-School: Barriers and Solutions". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  14. ^ "How can I give my immune system a boost?". National Health Service. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Physical Activity Statistics". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England, February 2009". National Health Service. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Pleis, John R.; Lucas, Jacqueline W.; Ward, Brian W. (2008), "Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey", Series Reports from the National Health Interview Survey #10, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pp. 11, 


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