Health Effects of Sitting Too Much
Quite a lot of jobs require us to sit for long hours. After working hard and going through a chaotic day at the office, all we can think about is going home and lounging in front of the television to relax. However, such a lifestyle can be more harmful than many of us seem to realize.
Studies have proven that sitting for a protracted period can be detrimental to your health in a variety of ways. Such a sedentary lifestyle affects the various systems of the body and puts your health in jeopardy.
The effects of sitting too much
Let us first go through the impact your body goes through due to sitting too much.
The incidence of diabetes seems to be increasing with time. Diabetes is among the leading causes of death in the current times as it leads to various systems of the body being affected.
People who sit for long periods and adopt a sedentary lifestyle without paying heed to their diet are more likely to developing insulin resistance. In this condition, the excess blood sugar is not transported from your blood to be stored in the muscles. Ultimately, insulin resistance can lead to diabetes type II.
Enzymes are responsible for burning fat in the body decrease significantly when you sit for long hours. Lipoprotein lipase burns the fat in the body and produces HDL or good cholesterol. The enzyme also plays a role in reducing the risk of heart disease by preventing the buildup of LDL or bad cholesterol in the arteries.
An inactive lifestyle decreases the levels of HDL in the body. This increases the risk of hypertension and heart conditions.
When you sit for long periods, the blood circulation to your brain and legs slows down. If you sit for consecutive hours without standing, you can develop blood clots. Usually, these blood clots are not dangerous and resolve on their own. However, sometimes, they can lead to the lungs being blocked, resulting in death.
The impact on bones
A sedentary lifestyle can also cause your bones to become brittle. People who sit for long hours and are inactive are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. This is because the bone is continuously forming new material while absorbing the old one. With age, old bone material is reabsorbed faster compared to the formation of new bone. Lack of physical activity leads to rapid bone loss.
Sitting for an extended period and its impact on muscles
A sedentary lifestyle means that your muscles are at rest for a significant portion of the day. This can be quite harmful to your muscles.
When you remain inactive for an extended duration, the muscles in your back, especially the erector spinae muscles bear the brunt. Erector spinae runs parallel to your spine, and if you fail to maintain a proper posture, your spine can severely be affected.
The spinal structures can be damaged, and you might develop chronic back pain. Thus, it is vital to sit up straight and not hunch over. It is also advisable to use ergonomic chairs.
If you regularly sit for long hours without a break, you will notice a change in the muscle groups of your legs such as the hamstrings and calves. They lose their tone as the muscles become less defined. The first effects are usually noticed on the hips and upper legs.
Sitting for long hours has the most impact on the gluteal muscles. Three major muscle groups are present in buttocks, including the gluteus maximum, medius and minimus. Sitting for too long causes these muscles to become soft; thus, your butt starts to look flat. You might also experience low back pain and similar other conditions.
Sitting around too long also leads to changes in the arm muscles. The triceps muscles of the arm are where fat is commonly deposited. Flabby skin develops in this area when you sit for too long without any sort of activity.
The effect of inactivity is evident on the abdominal muscles as well. At the front are the rectus abdominis muscles while the Obliques run along the sides. Transverse abdominis is the deepest muscle of the abdomen that lies beneath the internal oblique muscle.
Muscle loss and accumulation of fat is usually first noticed in the sides of waste and the front of the abdomen.
What should be done?
If it is because of your profession that you have to sit for long hours regularly, there is not much that is in your hands to change it significantly. However, there are some simple measures you can undertake to make sure that these long sitting hours are compensated and your body does not have to bear the effects of it.
Most people drive to work. It is recommended that you park some distance away from the office so that you would have to take some extra steps. If possible, you can also walk to work. Avoid taking the lift and use the stairs. If your floor is too high to take the stairs all the way, you can use the elevator for the half distance.
Change the layout of your office
Arrange the items in your office such that they require you to move around. For instance, you can place the printer far away from the computer so that you would have to get up and move to access it. Place your charger some distance away from your desk so that you will need to take some steps to get to it. Avoid asking for coffee in your office and instead head out to the break room to get it.
Proper sitting position
If possible, try using exercise balls in your office for a little bit of time. You can also think of using standing desks. You can find treadmill desks and bicycle desks these days which ensure that you can continue to work without compromising on your health.
You might also want to switch your chair from a cozy and comfortable one to a wooden chair that is not very comfortable. This will improve your sitting posture.
Set a reminder
Remind yourself to take a few steps now and then. You can set reminders on your phone for the purpose. You can also motivate yourself further by using a step tracker.