Today, a large percentage of people lead very sedentary lives; not necessarily because they do it out of choice, but because their jobs demand it. Regardless of what the reason for sitting for too long is, it’s extremely harmful to your health. Here are 6 serious health problems you could invite by sitting too long:
- Heart Disease- When you sit for extended periods of time, the muscles end up burning very less fat and the flow of blood becomes sluggish too. This gives fatty acids more of a chance to clog the heart. Sitting too long has been linked to increased cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. People who lead very sedentary lives are twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease compared to people who are more active.
- Diabetes Risk- The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which carried glucose to the cells and provides them energy. However the cells of idle muscles respond sluggishly to insulin, which makes it produce larger quantities of this hormone- this leads to diabetes as well as other diseases. Even one day of prolonged sitting can cause a dip in insulin response; which means its best to stay as active as you can every single day
- Colon Cancer- A number of studies have linked sitting for longer periods to colon, endometrial and breast cancer risk. Though there isn’t too much clarity about the reason for it, one particular theory suggests that excess of insulin in the body encourages cell growth. Another theory states that regular movement increases the production of natural antioxidants which kill cell-damaging & free radicals which have the potential to cause cancer.
- Muscle Degeneration- When you move, sit straight or even stand, the abdominal muscles stay upright. However when you sit slumped in a chair, they don’t get used at all. Weak abs and tightened back muscles lead to bad posture which exaggerates the natural arch of the spine- this condition is called swayback/hyperlordosis. In addition, a bad posture has a negative impact on your digestion too.
- Tight Hips- When your hips are flexible, they help in keeping your body balanced. On the other hand, people who sit for extended periods of time rarely end up extending their hip flexor muscles and they become tight and short. This limits stride length and range of motion. A number of studies have proved that a dip in hip mobility is one of the primary reasons why older people lose their balance and fall easily
- Poor Circulation in Legs- Sitting for too long slows down the circulation of blood; this causes the pooling of fluid in the legs and leads to problems such as varicose veins, swollen ankles and DVT- deep vein thrombosis/blood clots. When you walk or run, it stimulates the lower body and hip bones to grow denser, thicker and stronger. Inactivity can lead to early osteoporosis and weaker bones up the risk of severe fractures in case of a fall
These are just a few of the negative impacts that sitting too long, has on your health. Sitting for extended periods of time, slows down the body metabolism & the manner in which lipoprotein lipase (an enzyme) breaks- down our reserves of fat. Blood glucose levels as well as blood pressure increase. Even small amounts of activity throughout the day- like standing up & moving around is more than enough to bring these levels back to normal.
Regular Activity Helps
You may not realize this, but even those seemingly small amounts of regular activity add up for a positive impact. Scientists suggest that even 30-minutes of light activity in bursts of 2-3 minutes offer the same health benefits as a block of exercise. But if you continue with your sedentary lifestyle, you are surely setting yourself up for health issues, some of which can turn chronic or every severe.
So, you can’t change the nature of your work and have to be glued to the PC all day. But getting up from the chair every half an hour, stretching a bit, using the stairs instead of an elevator and standing up as often as you can , are some of the ways in which you can combat this problem.