Just from the discomfort alone, everybody knows when they have been seated for too long. But what exactly are we doing to our bodies? What damage are we causing, how long is too long, and can it be avoided?
Experts claim, that prolonged sitting can cause our bodies to suffer in many ways. The following passage explains what prolonged sitting can do to our bodies and why.
Prolonged sitting can cause a range of organ issues, from heart disease to colon cancer.
Due to sitting, fat is burnt at a far slower rate. This can lead to the clogging of the heart, an increase in cholesterol or even blood pressure. Those who sit for prolonged periods are twice as likely to suffer from issues related to the heart than those who spend their time balanced between sitting and standing.
Pancreatic Problems – Diabetes And More
When muscles aren’t exposed to as much work, they can become tiresome and respond poorly to insulin. This leads to the pancreas produces more of the hormone, which is a common cause of diabetes.
Prolonged sitting also exposes the pancreas to other issues such as cell growth which can cause pancreatic cancer.
Another side effect of prolonged sitting is colon cancer. Cell growth is yet again the issue here. The lack of movement also means natural antioxidants cannot protect cells as well as they could in someone who regularly moves around. This means cells are more likely to become damaged in those who sit too often and that can be the cause of colon cancer, or many other forms of cancer.
Muscular Decay And Degeneration
Decreased Hip Mobility And Movement
Hips help you to balance in day to day life. When you sit for long periods you gradually decrease your hip flexibility. This means you limit your hip motion and worsen your balance amongst other things.
Weakened Abdominal Muscles
Abdominal muscles are vital for your body and its normal, upright posture. When you sit for long periods these muscles weaken, gradually worsening your posture. This can also lead to further health conditions and create a generally unhealthy standard of living.
Loss Of Blood Circulation In Arms And Legs
Long term sitting can alter your blood circulation. As well as slowing circulation, too much blood goes to the legs and feet. This can cause swelling as well as varicose veins. Furthermore, it can trigger highly dangerous blood clots.
Bones weaken over time if they are not tested and sitting does not test them. Walking, running and even stretching help to encourage bone thickening, making bones denser and stronger. By sitting you become more exposed to potential broken bones and bone-related diseases.
Neck, Back And Neurology
Muscle movement helps to keep fresh blood flowing to the trigger. Sitting for long periods means less fresh blood reaches the brain therefore brain functions slow. This causes reaction times to suffer. Lack of blood flow to the brain also means the chemicals the body produces do not reach it. This can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Neck Pains And Stiffness
Those who sit for the longest periods, generally do so because of a desk job. This may mean they lean forward, have their neck in uncomfortable positions and generally strain it. This can lead to pains and stiffness over time.
Muscular Disk Issues
When you sit, the muscle known as the psoas tightens and pulls the upper spine forward. This pulls weight away from the spinal arch where it should rest to elsewhere. In this situation, the person is of greater risk of a herniated lumbar disk.
Slouching – Back Ailment
Slouching at a desk is another common problem. This not only affects the neck but also the back. Slouching places too much stress on the shoulders and back. It can also affect posture in the long term.
Lack Of Flexibility In The Spine
Our spines vertebrae regularly expand and contract with movement. This helps to absorb blood and nutrients. Sitting means this happens unevenly, causing the spine to harden in places and lose the ability to move as well.
Mortality Of Sitting – How Long Is Too Long
Those people who sit for prolonged periods are at far greater exposure to health-related issues. But what amount of time is too long to be seated?
Studies show that those who watched less than 1 hour of TV a day have far less chance of dying from illness related to sitting. Those who watch more than 1 hour a day have a 61% more chance of dying from an illness developed due to prolonged sitting.
Experts say that you should not remain seated for more than 15 minutes at a time, with 30 minutes for every hour awake being spent stood up. This balance should ensure you stay at the best health possible.
In terms of the amount of time sat during a day, there is no clear maximum amount. However, one thing is for certain, even more than an hour sat during a day becomes detrimental for your health.
Can We Avoid Health Issues When Seated – Combatting Sitting
Many people simply do not have much of a choice and have to stay seated during the day, possibly due to their profession. So how can they avoid health-related issues when they are seated?
If you do have to regularly remain seated then posture if very important. You should try to avoid leaning forward and keep your shoulders relaxed. Supporting your lower back is also very important as that is a place where many health-related issues can stem from. Finally, try to keep your elbows at a natural angle of around 90 degrees.
If you are finding this difficult, perhaps due to being stuck at a traditional desk then there are a few ways to help yourself. These include:
- Changing your seat – An item such as a standing chair may be great for this, or even a wobble ball. These help to stop leaning and force your muscles to keep working. They also force you to regularly redistribute your weight so you don’t stress a particular area of your body for too long.
- Stretch Regularly – Stretching can help to keep blood flowing as well as helping your body to regain posture. If you like, you can dedicate some time to yoga, this will help both mentally and physically.
- Get Up Occasionally – This may only be to get a coffee, however the extra movement will definitely help!
If possible, you should always try to split your time between sitting and standing. This will keep you at your best possible health, both physically and mentally.