Health Risks of Prolonged Sitting and How to Get Moving
Sitting is not the danger here, the time spent sitting is the thing you need to be worried about.
- What Happens To The Body When In a Sedentary Position?
- Sitting Can Shorten Your Life
- How to Get Moving
Our bodies are designed for regular movement, but many people spend most of their days sitting still. An average adult in the US spends 9 to 10 hours every day in a sitting position. Even a 30 or 60 minute workout cannot counteract the side effects of such a lifestyle. Many Americans do not even engage in any form of workout, nor a walk after this period of sitting, which means that their bodies are almost always in a sedentary state.
Sitting is not the danger here, the time spent sitting is the thing you need to be worried about. A brief period of sitting down is natural, but longer periods can seriously do damage to your health and, believe it or not, shorten your life.
What Happens To The Body When In a Sedentary Position?
If you have been sitting for a long period of time, when you get up, a number of molecular cascades occurs. Within 90 seconds of standing up, the cellular and muscular systems that process triglycerides, cholesterol and blood sugar are activated. They are activated by carrying your own body-weight, and are also responsible for giving fuel to your cells. If they are functioning right, they decrease the risk of obesity and diabetes. Your body is designed to be active and on the move, so when you stop moving, it is like you are telling your body to shut down.
Prolonged sitting can do a lot of damage to your internal organs like your heart and pancreas. This can lead to colon cancer, it can cause you problems with digestion and give you brain damage. It can also create various posture problems like a strained neck and shoulders, back problems, muscle degeneration and problems with your hips. Sitting leads to poor circulation in your legs and this can cause swelling in your ankles, varicose veins and blood clots. When you walk, run and engage in other activities, you will have denser and stronger bones. A lack of activities can cause weak bones and osteoporosis.
Sitting Can Shorten Your Life
The more hours you spend sitting, the shorter your lifespan will be. A study has shown that if you reduce the average time you are spending sitting down; for example, less than three hours a day; you can increase your life expectancy by two years. Another study has concluded that watching television for an hour after the age of 25, reduces your life expectancy by 22 minutes.
How to Get Moving
High-intensity exercises are important if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle, but since over half of all men in America and 60% of women never engage in any physical activity, and they spend their time sitting for many hours, the first thing they need to do is to add more movement in their everyday routine. It sounds simple right? But, the reality is much harder to get used to, since mostly because people are used to sitting all the time, whether they are working, eating, commuting to work or watching TV.
You can start by using a pedometer, or one of those smart wearable fitness trackers which will also give you feedback on your sleeping patterns, which is another important aspect in being healthy. Set a goal; how many steps will you walk every day. Track them and see how this minor change will benefit your health. You can also do simple things, like walk up to a coworker and talk to them instead of sending them an email. You can choose stairs before the elevator and park your car further from your office or home.
There are a couple of more simple ways to increase your movement and avoid sitting down, like organizing your office space in a way that makes you stand up in order to reach certain things. Perhaps using an exercise ball instead of a regular office chair will do the trick. It will engage your core muscles and improve your flexibility and balance. You can even set a timer which will remind you to stand up and move for 10 minutes after each hour. Walk, stand or do some simple exercises by your desk. Remember, you need to do this for your health. Don’t let prolonged sitting have a destructive outcome on your body.