We are so focused on obvious health hazards in our lives that we end up ignoring the subtle ones. A great example of a subtle health hazard is constant sitting. Due to the nature of work and life, many people have hours of uninterrupted sitting in the office. Other people who enjoy watching their favorite shows and playing video games also fall victim of spending too much time on the chair. Research has shown that sitting for too long may be bad for our life expectancy and our overall health.
You’re probably wondering, but I work out. Doest this count for something? Well, working out is great but at times, it may be too late to reverse the already done damage of constantly being seated. On average, a normal adult is sedentary for six to eight hours a day. Actively moving during the day is highly recommended because it is very necessary to lower the risk of mortality and other heart diseases. Human bodies are built to be upright since many critical parts of our bodies like our hearts, cardiovascular systems, and our bowels work more effectively and efficiently when our bodies are upright as opposed to when we are sited. If you are wondering why sitting is getting such a bad rap, read its effects below to learn more.
The cause of bad posture
For most people, sitting for too long every day can lead to permanent damage of their posture because of damaged intervertebral disc. Sitting, especially in a bad posture for a long time can yield negative effects on the body and this happens because of the immense pressure that is constantly placed on the back, joints, and tendons. This further leads to improper body alignment and muscular imbalance. Sitting requires the spine and the neck to support the weight of the entire body. While this does not cause any problems for a short duration, doing so for an extended period will lead to the disks staying in a compressed position and erodes them of their flexibility. In addition, when you sit leaning forward, there is a chance that you will strain the neck vertebrae which ultimately results to permanent imbalances, sore neck, shoulders and neck strain.
Obesity is arguably one of the most common diseases in the world. While some of the times it is genetic, it is mostly caused by our lifestyles. Sitting for long hours means that you are using less energy because your body is generally very inactive. When the body is in this state, there are fewer calories that are burnt in the process and the inactivity causes a significant amount of weight gain. Research has also linked sitting for long hours to increased cholesterol levels which ultimately lead to obesity and heart diseases. In addition to that, sitting for long hours leads to increased release of insulin into the bloodstream. This causes the body to react to the increased insulin production by storing fats which is a major contributor to obesity. When you sit for long, the fat mainly accumulates in the waist area. So if you have been trying to lose some tummy fat, consider spending more time on your feet.
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Blood circulation problems and Heart problems
Because our bodies are very sensitive, the effects of sitting long hours can be very disastrous. Although the symptoms will barely show at an early stage, they are very fatal once they have accumulated with time. Sitting normally affects the circulation of the blood in the body especially the pelvic area and the lower limb. It also affects the hip area and organs around the hip because of the intense pressure. To ensure that the lower body also receives sufficient amount of blood, simple exercises such as walking in between you long office hours will suffice.
The slow flow of blood in the body increases the chances of developing heart problems such as cardiovascular diseases which could be anything from stroke, blood clotting, and risen cholesterol levels to fat clogging in the blood vessels.
Studies have further revealed that sitting for long hours increases the risk of different heart disease by 64%. Each hour spent sitting increases the level of deposit to the blood vessel by 14%. The effects are so intense that hours spent in the gym and eating a good diet can barely mitigate the risk.
Leads to brain damage
Statistics over the last five years have shown that most people who have white collar jobs suffer from depression. While there could be several other factors that lead to this, inactivity caused by sitting for long hours has topped the list. Immobility of the body over a long period of time results to slow shutting down of our brains. Since the circulation of blood is affected by sitting for long hours, the brain gets less and less fresh oxygen and blood which triggers the release of brain and mood enhancing chemicals. This gradually pushes people into depression. Also, decreased energy levels and lethargy will lead to brain damage in the long run for people who sit for too long.
Digestion is a very important phenomenon in the body. Food is technically like fuel for the body and it needs to be digested properly so that the body cells can receive nutrients. Sitting for too long, however, can affect your digestion especially when you sit immediately after a meal. This is because there will be a compression of contents in the abdomen hence slowing down the process of digestion that will result to heartburn, bloating and cramps. Delayed digestion can also cause a microbial imbalance in the intestines leading to inflammation and irritable bowels.
It cause back pains and joint pains
The back is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. It is very common to hear people constantly complaining of back aches. Many people have this misconception that back aches is only for the elderly people but the truth is 8 out of every 10 people suffer from either an acute or a chronic backache.
Sitting for a long hour on chair puts a lot of stress on our back and it causes too much strain. It mainly affects the back and the neck muscles. Due to this tension in the tissues, blood flow is weakened resulting in reduced oxygen and nutrients intake of ligaments and bones which ultimately leads to tiredness of these areas. This particularly happens when you remain sited in a particular position for a very long time since it will have an effect on your spine. After say a long day at work, it is very common to experience either back pains, joint pains or shoulder pains. When this persists for long it could lead to permanent damage and you could experience this sort of pain for a long time.
Leads to reduced efficiency of the lungs
Since sitting for long hours causes blood circulation problems, breathing is definitely affected. The improper blood circulation in the body decreases the efficiency of the lungs which in turn decreases the rate of blood purification. This will affect the functionality of other body organs which could be fatal.
Sitting on a chair for long hours is very dangerous and catastrophic to the body. However, it is inevitable given the pressure to make a living and the type of leisure most of us enjoy such as video games and watching shows. Because of the extent of damage sitting for long hours can do, we need to evaluate our activities and make decisions that will improve our health. Trying to be active like taking the stairs instead of the lift, going to the gym occasionally, taking long walks and periodically moving around in your seat will help you live longer. At work you can try new things like walking over to your colleague to communicate as opposed to emailing him/her or shouting across the room, organizing the walking meeting and taking your lunch break outside your office or desk. In a nutshell, try and reduce your sedentary behavior and move around more regardless of where you are.