Many professions today involve computer work, paperwork, meetings, etc., which require sitting at a desk for multiple hours a day. Then after work, people often relax on the couch or in front of a computer, sitting even more. On average, a U.S. adult spends 9 to 10 hours each day sitting, even an hour workout and eating healthy cannot counteract these damaging effects.
How Does Sitting Impact My Health?
Numerous studies suggest sitting for long hours is harmful to your mental and physical health. Recent findings show that even exercise and a healthy diet will not entirely reverse the health consequences associated with sitting for extended periods of time.
As Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book: Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, stated:
“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day… You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”
Read below how Dr. Mercola further explains the adverse effects sitting has on the various parts of the body.
Brain:Because sitting decreases the flow of oxygen and blood to your brain, researchers have also found that excessive sitting can negatively impact your brain, suppressing your ability to think clearly and reducing the production of mood-enhancing chemicals.
Heart: When you sit, blood flows slower and muscles burn less fat, which makes it easier for fatty acids to clog your heart. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that women who sit for 10 or more hours a day may have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less.
Pancreas/Diabetes: Your body’s ability to respond to insulin is affected by just one day of excess sitting, which increases insulin production from the pancreas, which could lead to diabetes. Research published in Diabetologia found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least. Sitting for more than eight hours a day has also been associated with a 90 percent increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Cancer: Excess sitting may increase your risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The mechanism is not known for certain, but it could be due to excess insulin production, which encourages cell growth, or the fact that regular movement boosts antioxidants in your body that may eliminate potentially cancer-causing free radicals. Findings presented at the 2015 Inaugural Active Working Summit also found that sitting increases lung cancer by 54 percent, uterine cancer by 66 percent, and colon cancer by 30 percent.
Digestion: Sitting down after you’ve eaten causes your abdominal contents to compress, thus slowing down digestion. Sluggish digestion, in turn, can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, as well as dysbiosis in your gastrointestinal tract, a condition caused by microbial imbalances in your body.
Posture Problems: It’s common to hold your neck and head forward while working at a computer or cradling a phone to your ear. This can lead to strains to your cervical vertebrae along with permanent imbalances, which can lead to neck strain, sore shoulders and back. Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing, and the toll on your back health is even worse if you’re sitting hunched in front of a computer. It’s estimated that 40 percent of people with back pain have spent long hours at their computer each day.
Varicose Veins: Sitting leads to poor circulation in your legs, which can cause swelling in your ankles, varicose veins, and blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Mainly, at the molecular level, the body was designed to be active and on the move all day long. When you stop moving for extended periods of time, the body thinks it’s time to shut down and prepare for death.
Have good sitting posture with a straight spine. Avoid from slumping over or leaning forward to look at your screen.
Set an alarm every hour to remind you to stand up and walk for 5-10 minutes.
Drink more water. This will also make you walk to the bathroom more.
Use an app or way to track your steps. Set daily goals!
When you get home, don’t sit for long hours in front of the TV or on your computer.
Park your vehicle at a distance in the parking lot of your office to enable you to walk a little extra.
Use stairs instead of escalators where ever possible.
Stand up or walk while you are on the phone.
Use an exercise ball for your chair.
Purchase or modify your desk to be a standing workstation.
Take a moment to watch this video further expressing the harmful health issues associated with sitting long periods:
Reader – How will you avoid the negative health effects from sitting long periods of time?