Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. And with the holidays, it’s easy to give ourselves plenty of excuses for not exercising and eating right. But excuses and holidays aside, too many of us adopt poor health habits all throughout the year, and one of the worst is a sedentary lifestyle. The National Institutes of Health reminds us that we humans were “designed to move” and that our very survival depended upon it. Yet our modern world is forcing us more and more into activities that restrict physical movement, whether in our homes, in our cars, or at work.

A sedentary lifestyle can be learned from childhood if you grew up with few active role models and opportunities for exercise. It can be the result of chronic illness, pain, or injury. It also can sneak into your otherwise once healthy life gradually and in many ways, overtaking one hour here and another there as you trade more physical activities for those less rigorous. With the rise of electronic media and the many ways to consume it, people are becoming even more sedentary than ever, as they binge on entire television seasons, play endless hours of video games, and participate in social media.

The real problem with living a sedentary life is that is comes with real consequences and serious risks to your health,  including:

* Slowing metabolism, resulting in weight gain

* Loss of muscle mass and endurance

* Metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes

* Heart disease and stroke

* Poor blood circulation, increased blood pressure, and increased cholesterol

* Weaker bones and osteoporosis

* A rise in inflammation

In fact, ExpressMD Urgent Care takes care of countless patients who suffer from these conditions, all too many the result of a sedentary lifestyle. While catching up on the latest 12 episodes of your favorite show comes with a steep cost, there is good news.

Just as a more sedentary lifestyle can creep in almost unnoticed, a more healthy, active lifestyle can begin gradually with just a few simple swaps.

In fact, starting slowly is the safest way to build more exercise into your daily routine:

* Do more chores around the home – housework, do-it-yourself repairs, and yard work are great exercise.

* Walk laps around the room when you talk on the phone and dance when you listen to music.

* Cook instead of going out to eat – the activity in the kitchen gets you moving, and you’re more likely to eat healthy when you prepare your own meals.

* Use the stairs instead of an elevator.

* Park farther away from building entrances.

* Do chair exercises at work and take frequent breaks to stretch and walk for even a couple of minutes.

* Choose one new hobby to get you more active; even “sitting” hobbies, like crafting or working jigsaw puzzles, get you moving more than the television does.

* Do floor exercises or yoga poses while you watch TV – and use social media to support and keep you accountable to a healthy lifestyle.

However you work more physical activity into your daily routine, your body will thank you for it.