We all know that sitting for prolonged periods of time can be uncomfortable, but did you know that it can also be dangerous?
Studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
Today, we’ll explore the risks of sitting too much and ways to combat its negative effects.
The Risks of Sitting For Long
Sitting disease is real. With many desk jobs and work-from-home flexibility, we’re sitting for longer periods than ever before.
While it may seem harmless, research shows prolonged sedentary has numerous adverse effects on health. Let’s explore some of the top side effects of sitting all day.
1. Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases
Do you know that sitting for long periods of time has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease?
It lowers HDL or “good” cholesterol while increasing triglycerides and belly fat storage. This raises the risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis over time, which can contribute to heart disease.
What you need to do is to make it a habit to get in some type of activity every hour, even if just a walk around the office.
2. Muscle Weakness and Poor Posture
Poor posture while sitting can strain your back and neck while compressing the organs. Slouching impedes breathing and reduces lung capacity and oxygenation in the body.
On the flip side, chest-heavy forward posture can contribute to digestive issues like bloating and heartburn over time. So try to maintain a neutral posture as much as possible while sitting.
3. Long Sitting Causes Mental Health Issues
Long hours of uninterrupted sedentary increases your risk of anxiety, depression, and mood disturbances. There is a mind-body connection tied to posture and movement.
Sitting all day long can negatively impact energy levels while amplifying stress. Be sure to take regular screen breaks to rest your mind and move around.
4. Poor Blood Circulation In The Body
Sitting for long periods slows circulation in the body.
Pooling of blood in the legs and feet can cause varicose veins and blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis. This puts you at greater risk of pulmonary embolism as well. Be sure to get up and walk around frequently to boost circulation.
Other Impact Of Long sitting on Your Body
Research indicates prolonged sitting is linked to a higher risk of developing some cancers including breast, colon, endometrial, and lung cancers. Sitting may promote cell proliferation and the growth of tumors. The exact mechanisms are still under study but regular movement appears protective.
- Long sitting hours can wreak havoc on your back and neck health. The forces on your spine increase when sitting vs standing, placing more pressure on discs and joints.
This can contribute to lower back pain, disc degeneration, muscle stiffness, and loss of mobility over time. Make sure your desk and chair are ergonomic and take regular breaks to walk around.
2. Sitting for extended periods slows metabolism and circumvents the body’s natural fat-burning mechanisms.
When standing and moving, fat-burning enzymes are activated in the muscles. Sedentary puts muscles into an inactive state, reducing the rate you burn calories. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up frequently.
Ways to Reduce Sitting Time
Stand Up and Move Around
One of the simplest ways to reduce sitting time is to stand up and move around regularly. Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and stretch or take a short walk every hour. This can help improve circulation and reduce stiffness and muscle tension.
Use a Standing Desk
If you work at a desk for long periods of time, consider using a standing desk. This allows you to work while standing up, reducing the amount of time you spend sitting. Some standing desks also have adjustable heights, allowing you to switch between sedentary and standing throughout the day.
Take Active Breaks
Instead of taking a break and sitting down, try taking an active break. This can include going for a walk, doing some light stretching, or even doing a few exercises. This can help break up long periods of sedentary and provide a boost of energy.
Exercises to Combat the Effects of Sitting
Seated Forward Fold
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Inhale and raise your arms overhead. Exhale and hinge forward at the hips, reaching for your toes. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
Standing Back Extension
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on your lower back and gently arch your spine backward. Hold for 10 seconds and release.
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Lift your hips up and back, straightening your arms and legs to form an inverted V-shape. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can have serious negative effects on your health. However, there are many ways to combat these effects and reduce your sedentary time throughout the day. By incorporating regular movement breaks, standing desks, and exercise into your routine, you can improve your overall health and well-being.