Most people think sitting won’t cause any problems because they are not doing anything physical, but the truth is quite the opposite. Being sedentary can create a wide range of health problems affecting both the mind and body.
Physical Dangers Caused by Sitting All Day
The body is designed to move. When movement is restricted in any way, it negatively affects the bones and muscles, which could progress into severe health problems.
- Bone Problems – Bones require regular movement to maintain strength. When the body is immobile, the skeletal loading process that helps produce and strengthen bones is reduced, weakening the bones. Over time this can lead to osteoporosis. When sitting all day is combined with pore posture, it can eventually lead to disc degeneration.
- Muscle Problems – Muscles also require regular movement to maintain strength. When a person sits all day, it can negatively affect the muscles leading to joint instability and being more prone to injury.
- Weight Problems – When you move, the muscles release molecules that help process the fats and sugars eaten. When a person sits all day, that process is lessened and can lead to weight gain.
- Blood Sugar Problems – Being sedentary takes a toll on our blood sugar levels and may lead to insulin resistance issues, a precursor to diabetes.
- Heart Problems – Cardiovascular disease can be deadly, and sitting all day is a huge contributor. Even if a person exercises regularly, if they sit for most of the time, their heart will suffer the consequences. This problem is also known as sitting disease.
- Circulatory Problems – Sitting too much can lead to circulation issues that lead to severe complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This life-threatening problem occurs when a blood clot is formed within a deep vein in the body, caused by prolonged sitting without getting up and moving around. DVT will typically start in one of the large veins in the leg but can travel up into the lungs and heart, forming a pulmonary embolus.
When you stand up, you boost your metabolism, tone the muscles and help reduce potential bodily health issues from occurring.
The physical problems can be devastating, but the mental health issues caused by too much sitting are in many cases debilitating daily.
Emotional Dangers Caused by Sitting All Day
Our emotional wellbeing depends on our state of mind. When we move muscles, we release the mood-enhancing chemical endorphins, which help us feel good. The opposite is true when we are sedentary. Our mental energy and outlook decrease along with our endorphin level.
The brain requires a steady flow of blood circulating to function properly. The following are just a few mental health ailments a person could encounter.
- Depression – This mental health issue is a double-edged sword when sitting all day. When a person sits too long, their energy level falls and can lead to depression over time. On the flip side, being depressed can deplete energy and make you not want to move, which feeds into the sitting all day syndrome.
- Anxiety – When a person has unused energy, it can build up, causing mental tension. When this happens, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Moving the body depletes cortisol levels helping to relieve feelings of anxiety.
You can increase energy, focus, and productivity by standing up while improving your mood and decreasing stress. Fortunately, there is numerous fun yet simple ways to combat the dangers of sitting all day.
How to Combat the Dangers of Sitting All Day
At Work – Our jobs take up a lot of our time, and therefore, it is vital to take all the steps necessary to ensure our health at work.
- Make sure your place of work has the proper ergonomic workstation set up.
- Bring smaller water bottles to work, so you have to get up and fill the bottle and get up to use the restroom.
- Set your phone to remind you to move every 30 minutes to one hour. Many free apps are available that do this, and your body and mind will thank you.
- Take advantage of your breaks and lunchtime to stay fit.
- Stand while talking on the phone.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- During your work break, try a six-minute desk yoga routine.
- Instead of instant messaging and emails, get up and talk to your coworker in person.
At Home – It is effortless to sit on the couch and watch television for an extended amount of time, but there are things you can do to change that and get more movement into your home life.
- During commercial breaks, get up and stretch or try doing a few squats or lunges.
- Start using a stability ball to incorporate movement and core muscle strengthening when watching television.
- Add more movement when cleaning and cooking by creating a mini dance routine.
- Take a walk after dinner.
- Get a movement tracker which will keep you motivated to move more.
At the Gym – The gym has pretty much everything you need to avoid sitting, except when you are sitting on one of the machines.
- Stay seated at the machine for no more than one minute. Training with weights requires a rest period between sets, so instead of sitting there waiting, get up and stretch before your next set starts.
- Incorporate core strengthening into your workouts to help build abdominal strength and combat back pain at the same time.
- Cardio exercise should be done for at least 30 minutes three to five times a week.
- Try classes such as yoga and pilates, which utilize your body weight to tone and stretch the muscles.
- Include strength training at least three times a week to build muscle and bone density.
Everyday Practices – These highly-effective yet straightforward activities can help prevent damage due to sitting too much.
- Park farther away from your destination.
- Take part in new outdoor adventures such as golfing, bike riding, and hiking.
- Join an outdoors meetup group.
- Take a class and learn something new like cooking, ballroom dancing, and tai chi.
- Always practice maintaining good posture.
Your body wants to sit less and move more, so the next time you have a break, instead of sitting down, get up and move. You can walk, stretch, go outside, get some fresh air and stimulate the mind and body. Start easing pain and feeling better by simply increasing your circulation today!