Living a sedentary life can be very dangerous to your health. Experts claim that “sitting is the new smoking”. Studies have shown that the more you sit through the day, the higher the chances of dying younger. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you have a higher chance of being overweight, developing type 2 diabetes, cancer or heart disease, and experiencing depression and anxiety.
And the bad news doesn’t stop here. Continue reading to see all the negative effects that sitting has on your life.
Sitting for too long has also been linked to heart disease. Experts claim that people who are inactive and sit for many hours have a 147 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. A study found that men who watch television for 23 hours or more each week have a 64% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compare to men who watch only 11 hours of tv each week.
New studies show that people who sit for a long period of time have a 40% higher chance to develop some types of cancer. The most common are lung, uterine and colon cancers. The reasons for this are yet unknown.
Legs and Gluteals
Sitting at your desk for too long can lead to weakening and wasting away of the large leg and gluteal muscles, which are important for walking and for stabilizing you. If these muscles are weak you are more likely to injure yourself from falls, and strains when you do exercise.
When moving, you engage your muscles which in turn helps your body digest the fats and sugars you eat. By spending a lot of time sitting, your digestion is not as efficient and so you retain those fats and sugars as fat in your body. Excessive sitting and lack of exercise is a sure way of putting on a lot of weight in a short amount of time.
Trying to compensate for the large amount of time spent sitting with intense exercising can still lead to health problems, like metabolic syndrome. The solution, new research suggests, in 60 to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity performed daily.
Hips and Back
Your legs and gluteal won’t be the only ones affected by the long periods of sitting at your desk. Your hip flexor muscle, when not used, tends to shorten, leading to problems for your hip joints. Your back is also affected, especially if during the sitting period you have a poor posture. This can lead to compression in the discs, which in time will become painful and will eventually lead to surgery.
Probably the least harmful effect of sitting for long periods, especially hunched over in front of a computer, is stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
Sitting for a long period is also bad for your mental health. A study of nearly 9,000 women in their fifties found that those who sat for long periods were three times as likely to have symptoms of depression than individuals with a more active lifestyle and who spent less than 4 hours sitting at their desks. Unfortunately, depression seems to be a two-way street: While depressed, you feel like you don’t have the energy to do any exercise, while at the same time sitting just gets you into a deeper state of depression.
Recently, it has been discovered that too much sitting can cause depression even amongst teens.
Although scientists don’t know exactly why, sitting for a long time, especially in front of a computer screen, can lead to anxiety. It might be because you become used to working alone, without human interaction and you distance yourself from friends and family, which is linked to social anxiety. Staring into a computer screen for too long can disrupt your sleep, which also leads to anxiety.
Prolonged sitting can also lead to spider veins or varicose veins. This can happen because sitting causes your blood to pool into your legs. While varicose veins aren’t as dangerous as other problems listed above, in some cases they can lead to blood clots and thus other serious problems.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that has formed into the veins of your log due to long periods of sitting. A blood clot can break off the vein at any time and travel to other parts of your body, cutting off the blood flow. If, for example, blood circulation is cut off from your lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism. This, in turn, leads to major complications or, in worst cases, even death.
Many of our jobs have become more sedentary, with long periods sitting at our desk, hunched over our keyboard. This is leading to more and more people having serious health issues, like the ones mentioned above. It’s enough to sit for 8 hours a day, including the time spent in your car or at home on your couch, to significantly increase your chances of developing dangerous health issues.
The best and easiest way to start spending less time sitting is to switch to a standing desk. It can easily help you start spending more time on your feet and less on your ass while you are working, either at home or the office. You have a lot of options to choose from, so you can start living a healthier lifestyle with a minimum investment.
While a standing desk is a good way to start, you should also find more ways to be more active throughout the day. For example, you can walk or cycle to and from work or start using the stairs instead of the elevator. You could also get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way, or park your car further from your office. Anything you can do to reduce your sedentary behavior is going to have a huge impact on your health.