How Sitting is a Health Hazard and Why You Should Avoid It?
Living a sedentary lifestyle means living a life where there’s little to no physical activity involved throughout a person’s day.
Sitting around the whole day, whatever the reason may be, can be seriously endangering to one’s health and life.
A sedentary lifestyle is a reason why most Americans suffer from obesity. In 2014, 83 million people in the United States lived a sedentary lifestyle. Not just obesity, it also puts people at risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Researchers have split sedentary behavior into five categories: work, community, indoor, outdoor and commute.
Based on these, people spent 28 percent of their day sitting at work, 24 percent of their day at community sitting, for example, at the church, the restaurant and at the movies, and 20 percent of their day was spent at home.
Such a sedentary lifestyle is the reason why more than a third of Americans are obese. People risk their health to be comfortable and live a life where they don’t have to do much physical work, but they don’t realize that the cost of such a lifestyle is their health.
It’s about time we understood that comfort only matters if we get to enjoy it in the long run. For example, if you move around a little every day, or exercise even for 45 minutes in a day, your heart will start getting out of the trouble the sedentary lifestyle has put it in.
Health Hazards of Sitting: Dangers for a Sedentary Lifestyle
Too much of anything is good for nothing. The same rule applies to sitting around all day like a couch potato as well. Some health hazards of sitting are as followed:
During a long sitting, muscles burn less fat, and blood flows slowly, and this lets fatty acids clog the heart more easily.
Prolonged sitting has been associated with high blood pressure and increased cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time in their day are more at risk of cardiovascular diseases than the ones with least sedentary time in their day.
Pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond to insulin, which leads to increased production of insulin and this can result in diabetes. A 2011 study found that insulin production increased just after one day of prolonged sitting.
Research has associated prolonged sitting with colon, breast and endometrial cancers. This might be because of unusual growth in cells due to excess insulin. Another theory is that if the body doesn’t get the regular movement that boosts natural antioxidants that kills cancer cells, which means it’s at risk of cancer.
When you allow movement in the body and not sit in the same place for long hours, your core muscles are engaged, and they keep you upright. But when you slump down in a chair, they go unused.
Such a relationship with movement can result into tight back muscles and wimpy abdominal muscles, and this can exaggerate the spine’s natural arch, a condition called hyperlordosis, or swayback.
When you sit for prolonged hours, there isn’t much movement in your hips, and you hardly extend the hip flexor muscles, and this causes them to become short and tight. This limits the range of motion and stride. A study says that decreased hip mobility is one of the reasons why old people tend to fall.
Sitting requires no movement from the glutes, and they get used to it. Soft glutes hamper stability, your ability to push off and you won’t be able to maintain a sturdy stride.
Poor Circulation in Legs
Prolonged sitting hours slows blood circulation, which can lead to fluid pooling in the legs. Problems like swollen ankles and varicose veins and life-threatening blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be a result of prolonged sitting hours.
Scientists mostly attribute the recent rise in cases of osteoporosis to the absence of physical activity. Moving and performing weight-bearing exercises like walking and exercising makes bones thicker and stronger.
But when we spend most of our day sitting, it is bound to make our bones softer and weaker.
Trouble at the top
When muscles move, they pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and trigger the discharge of all kinds of mind and mood enhancing chemicals. When we live a sedentary lifestyle for a long time, everything slows down, inclusive of brain function.
Sitting at a desk at work, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard or tilting your head to cradle a phone can strain the cervical vertebrae and can contribute to permanent imbalances.
Sore Shoulders and Back
When you sit for a long time, your neck slouches and that overextends shoulders and back muscles as well, particularly the trapezius, which connects the neck and shoulders.
When there’s movement, the soft discs between vertebrae expand and contract like sponges, soaking up fresh blood. But when we don’t engage in some physical activity for a long time, the discs get squashed unevenly. Collagen becomes solid around tendons and ligaments.
People who live the sedentary lifestyle and don’t move around a lot are at higher risks for herniated lumbar discs.
When a muscle called psoas travels through the abdominal cavity and tightens, it pulls the upper lumbar spine forward. The upper body rests at the sitting bones (ischial tuberosity) instead of being distributed along the backbone.
Mortality of sitting
According to research, people who watched the most television in an 8.5 years study were at a 61 percent greater risk of dying than people who watched TV less than an hour in a day.
How to Avoid Living a Sedentary Lifestyle?
Now that you know about the health hazards of sitting and how harmful prolonged sitting hours can be, we should get to the part where I tell how to get out of such a toxic life because it’s never too late to bring about some changes in your lifestyle in order to improve your health and get your heart out of trouble.
1. Take a Walk
Research says that walking can help make you feel refreshed without having done a lot of work. Walking can also make you feel a little less stressed as it releases more endorphins than any other physical activity.
Fast walking also burns calories faster than anything. If you give yourself 30 minutes of fast walking every day and little 2-3 minute breaks between sitting shifts at work, you’re already making a huge change for the better!
2. Take the Stairs
You’ve probably heard this a million times and people are not wrong about it. Taking the stairs instead of the lift is a great exercise to get your legs moving.
It would also help improve your stamina and when that starts happening and you finally don’t feel like a couch potato anymore, your heart’s already out of trouble.
3. Stand up
What we don’t know about exercising is that movement is more important than how much time you keep going for or how rigorous your exercise is.
You have to remember to move first. If you move out of your desk or take your ass off your sofa every twenty minutes even for a few seconds, it can help you a great deal.
4. Wash the dishes
Tell your maid to take a day off and do the dishes on your day off work. Or just daily.
Washing the dishes is not a heavy workout regime, but it lowers your blood sugar levels, especially when you wash dishes after eating.
5. Avoid eating out
Research has shown that eating out leads to overeating.
If you’re planning to eat out, then you can plan a walk after the dinner with your family. Healthy living and building relationships simultaneously are not that difficult!
Gardening has proven to be therapeutic and your body moves without being in an uncomfortable environment.
You move around, making your flowers bloom and your body healthier. That’s got to be the deal breaker, right?
7. Park farther away
You know how when we were kids, we used to sneak more chocolates for dessert after dinner?
Well, when I talk about parking farther away, I mean sneaking some extra walking steps for a healthier body and mind. Not too difficult, right?
8. Walk or Bike
Walking to the grocery store, or walking your child to school, or biking your way to work instead of taking a cab can be great exercises and absolutely mind refreshing.
Remember, the goal is to move. Just move.
- Lump in the Throat (Globus Sensation): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
- Asthenia (Weakness): Common Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
- How Sleeping on the Floor Benefits Your Health?
“https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/”, The Washington Post web site, last accessed on 24th May, 2018
“https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-beat-a-sedentary-lifestyle-2509611”, Very well health web site, last accessed on 24th May, 2018