For many people, sitting for hours at their desk is an essential part of the job. However, these long periods of sitting can have serious and even irreversible damage to human health, both physical and mental. Here’s everything you’re risking every time you spend your day behind your desk.
Sitting for a long time can cause your muscles to weaken and waste away, especially those big muscles in legs and glutes. However, these muscles are responsible for walking and balance, which can have serious consequences on your lifestyle and health. Weak leg muscles increase the possibility of injury from falls and exercise-induced strain. Your hips and back will also suffer. Sitting will cause your hip muscles to shorten and trigger hip joint pain.
Moving your muscles encourages digestion of fats and sugars we eat. So, if you spend a lot of time seated, your digestion can slow down and cause you to retain fats and sugars instead of burning them. Even if you hit the gym after work, your sedentary lifestyle can still affect you, so take breaks, step away from your desk and take a five-minute walk every hour.
Sitting for a long time is linked to heart disease. For instance, men who watch more than 23 hours of television a week seated have a significantly increased possibility of dying from heart disease than those who watch only 11 hours. Some experts calculated that people with inactive lifestyles and those who sit for longer periods of time have over 100% higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Your back is probably under the most pressure while sitting, especially if you sit with a bad posture or don’t use ergonomically designed seating. Back issues that often occur as a result of prolonged sitting are stiffness, disc compression in spine and spine degeneration which can all be very painful and hard to correct. However, regular walk breaks and a good chair can relieve pain and prevent these symptoms from occurring. For instance, at the Winc online store, you can find ergonomic chair models as well as backrests that can be added to your chair at home to improve its comfort. Combine your new and improved chair with a footrest and you’ll help relieve tension in your neck, back and legs.
Diabetes is another health issue that can worsen by prolonged periods of inactivity. People with a sedentary lifestyle have around 112% higher risk of developing insulin resistance and getting diabetes. So, if your office job keeps you seated, make sure to take plenty of breaks, check out standing desks and take up physical activity once you’re out of the office.
After long periods of sitting, blood can pool in your legs and trigger swelling, twisting and bulging of veins. This health issue is called varicose veins and it can be very dangerous and aesthetically unsightly. See your doctor if you notice any changes in your veins and you can get treatment if needed.
Prolonged seating in older adults and reduced activity can lead to osteoporosis or weakened bones. This health condition can slowly affect your movements and cause you to be unable to perform even the easiest of everyday tasks like taking a shower or using the toilet. While moderate activity can’t really prevent osteoporosis, that doesn’t mean you can sit in front of the TV for hours after work. Regular physical activity throughout your life will help keep your bones healthy and strong and ensure good mobility in your senior years.
Anxiety & Depression
While experts don’t fully understand the link between sitting and mental health as much as they do between sitting and physical health, there are proofs that both anxiety and depression can be triggered by prolonged periods of sitting. One possible reason behind this is the fact that people who are not active enough tend to miss all the positive effects exercise and fitness bring. So, if you feel blue and tense, get up and move. Besides the help of mental health experts, physical activity is the best cure for depression and anxiety.
While we can’t afford to quit our sedentary jobs, we can boost our physical activity and take regular walk-breaks to ensure the effects of sitting are minimized. So, get up and get moving right now!
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.