If you are locked up to your computer, then you definitely sit for too long. You are at risk with cancer and other highly risky diseases. This is why I want to make sure you do something about it.
I wrote this article as a wake-up call. Here I’ll make you aware of the dangers associated with a lifestyle that is aimed at sitting for long period of times.
I want you to know the risks and take action today! Don’t wait till it’s too late.
Sit for too long – What is the issue?
We live in a society that is technologically driven. We are all spending a lot of time sitting down. Whether it is to watch television, work, or during our travel.
Ergotron has commissioned a study back in 2013. The study identified that Americans sit about 13 hours a day. It also described that 8 hours is the duration that Americans sleep at night. 8 hours of sleep in a night is normal. However, 21 hours of no real movement is what rings the bell.
If you investigate this further, you’ll understand that the extended time you are spending doing nothing with almost no movement at all means you are killing yourself slowly, but surely.
You are simply harming your health doing nothing.
What do scientists say about sitting too long?
Just before Ergotron commissioned a study on our living lifestyle, another study was published. In 2012, the JAMA Internal Medicine reported that if you prolong doing nothing (just sitting or sleeping), you are increasing the risk factor for all kind of mortality. In essence, you are reducing your life expectancy.
This study went even further. It stated that the number one public health program should aim at encouraging movement and reduce sitting time to its minimum. In essence, the study does not tell us anything we do not know, it just put it in black and white and hit us with it.
In 2015, another study was published. The Annals of Internal Medicine described that if you sat for a long period of times and that on a daily basis, this will adversely affect your health. Even if you do some physical activities later in the day say for an hour or two.
Other studies clearly stated that if you increase your daily movement, you can dramatically increase your life expectancy.
This is why it is important to understand what can happen to your body and health if you sit for too long.
1. Sit for too long lead to more belly fat
Sit for a long period of time, every single day, and you’ll end up increasing your body fat. And that fat does not go where it should. It’ll go around your waist.
The reason is that you do not move about, so do not use your waist often, hence it is the easiest location to store body fat.
I read in a publication by the American Journal of Physiology that exercising and even just moving around the office more often help your muscles releasing molecules. I can give you an example of a molecule released which is the lipoprotein lipase.
If you do not release these molecules, then your body do not process sugar and fat that we consume. Therefore, by not releasing the appropriate molecules, our body think it needs to stock the fat. And it does so around your waist and abdominal region.
What you need to know is that the appearance of fat around your waist is very dangerous. It is more dangerous than an overall increase in your body weight.
In essence, if you are in this situation, you are increasing the risk level to contract strokes, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and therefore increases the likelihood of early mortality. So aim to reduce your belly fat by running, swimming, doing some exercising or subscribing to a weight loss plan.
2. Sit for too long and risk of heart disease
I briefly mentioned heart disease in my previous point. If you sit for too long, then you’ll induce negative effects on your internal organs. And the first single organ that will be affected is your heart.
This is not rocket science. If you do sit, then you’ll have a slow blood flow around your body. This means a poor blood flow around some articulations and many other body parts.
This means you’ll end up with fats accumulating in your arteries and plaque to build up in your veins. These will easily clog your heart. You’ll end up with high blood pressure, plentiful of cholesterol and high potential for cardiovascular disease.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise has published a report where they described that if you do not move enough during the day, then you have a high risk to die from a cardiovascular disease. And guess what, cardiovascular death are the highest cause of death in many western countries and on high increase in developing countries because of sitting far too long.
The Current Opinion in Cardiology has also published a similar correlation between sitting and cardiovascular issues.
Further to this, a 2015 publication in the world renown Journal of Clinical Hypertension defined that our metabolism changes through time to incorporate prolonged sitting period. And these changes are not for the best of your health. They are responsible for cardiovascular diseases.
3. Back and neck pain associated with sitting
This is something that I have (back pain and neck pain) and I will have for the rest of my life. I have been spending a lot of time when I was a student sitting. And I was not sitting with the right posture. I hurt my back and my neck too.
It is now clear to scientists. As soon as you sit, you increase the pressure on your spine as it compresses itself to accommodate your needs. This leads to what they call premature back and neck degeneration. You’ll end up with chronic pain (like I do).
If you sit with the wrong posture, you’ll end up with a bad lower back. In 2007, the European Spine Journal has reported that sitting is not the primary cause of lower back pain.
On the other hand, it has shown that if you sit in the wrong posture, then you’ll end up with back pain. So sitting if fine, if you do it the right way.
4. The relationship between sitting and bad blood sugar levels
Diabetes is probably the second highest risk related to a sedentary lifestyle. Studies have shown that if you sit for prolonged periods, then you’ll build what is called insulin resistance. You will also have impaired glucose tolerance and unfortunately, you can be a victim of diabetes.
The issue is when you sit for long periods, your poor pancreas will produce more insulin. More insulin means higher potential for diabetes.
The review on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology published a report a while back demonstrating that physical inactivity leads to insulin resistance, increased blood pressure, dyslipidemia and impaired microvascular function. The publication only took healthy volunteers.
A more recent study provided me and all of you with hope. If you do light and moderate exercise or a bit intense walking for short amount of time (say at coffee breaks) then the Diabetes Care review report that you can lower postprandial glucose.
This is not all, you can also reduce your insulin levels in overweight people. And finally, you can achieve better blood circulation. Not bad for a short-medium intense walk at coffee breaks.
5. Higher Cancer Risk
If you worry about cancer, then you must change your lifestyle. Think the number of cancers you can avoid by just walking faster, running, swimming and decreasing dramatically your sedentary behavior.
If you reduce this behavior, you’ll reduce the risk for:
- Colorectal cancer.
- Lung cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Colon cancer
- Prostate cancer risk.
If you think of it, this makes sense. For instance, if you only sit after all of your meals (especially the night ones), then you increase your risk to higher blood sugar levels. This will, in turn, increase the risk of colon cancer.
So take some regular breaks during the day and make some moderate walking or exercises.
6. Sit down for long periods and risk mental health issues
This has been proven. If you sit too long, you’ll increase the risk of mental health issues.
Our blood is what transport oxygen throughout our body. So a bad blood circulation means a bad oxygen circulation. In turn, this means low brain oxygenation.
A lack of oxygen means that you can end up with what is known as a foggy brain. And when you have that, you will not be able to focus as clearly as you used to be. Your memory may play a bit too.
By just moving a little bit more, the blood will rush around your body and oxygenate your brain too. Your brain will then release some nice mood-enhancing chemicals.
The BMC Public Health published in 2013 that anyone having a sitting down or ‘low movement life’ is at high risk of psychological distress.
This was further confirmed in 2015 by the same organization.
7. Sit down and get weak glutes and legs
I can tell you one thing. You’ll suffer if you keep sitting down and do not start moving. Both your legs and glutes are in high need of being used. They have been created for that at the end of the day. So if you do not use them, you’re going for a shock.
The important bit: If you do not use your leg muscles (for many hours), then the fiber that makes the muscles will break (or tend to).
When your muscles start breaking, you are entering the phase of muscle atrophy. Having atrophy for a long time lead to weak muscles. This will impact the way you move around, your mobility, your hips and worse will decrease the strength of your glutes.
So you’ll have premature balancing issues, that affects the elderly; thereby increasing the risk of falls.
What you can do to reverse this issue to do some stretching. You can also increase the exercising around your office or home.
8. Try and avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
A lot of us get DVT and some are more prone to this than others. However, there is one thing that can increase the potential for DVT.
If you are a truck driver, a taxi cab driver, a delivery van drive, etc. you are the perfect victims for this.
Again, this is the same story. If you do not move, your calf muscles will not be called upon. So they do not contract. Then you get poor circulation. In turn, this means some blood will not move as fast as it should. And therefore you get a clot and finally DVT.
The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Short Reports defined that jobs that are associated with prolonged sitting in single positions will lead to increasing the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE).
VTE is worse than DVT as it includes both DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE) in one single disease.
Here are my tips to reduce the above issues
- If you use the phone often, then just stand and walk around your office while talking. This will also help you think.
- For desk jobs, try using one of those standing desks (see below for a good brand).
- If you can, try to walk for about 10 mins for every 30 minutes of sitting.
- Make physical exercise and stretching as one of the top most important part of your daily routine.
- When you sit, try to take the appropriate posture.
This is a little innovation that has made wonders in offices around the world. Basically, you can now work half of your time standing up and the other half sitting.
The desk goes up and down depending on your requirements. A lot of my friends have bought this and are using it. They are extremely happy. The downside is that you may go back to your easy and lazy usual sit down position. Work on your psychology and make sure you stay standing up.
Just by standing, you are encouraging your body to work harder. It spends more time up and therefore consumes more energy. It also improves blood flowing around your body. That’s it. Make your own decision. Click on the below picture if you want to know more.
If you are considering to sit for long period of time all the week, then at least consider doing some hill walking or just walking for long period of time over the weekend.
If you do not like walking, then try swimming and running. And if you do not like these, you can try gardening.
Please do something. I would hate that you’d read this article and do nothing. Take action and start moving around the office. It is a start.
Quick reminder, not walking means you can die sooner. It also means you may be subjected to blood pressure, cancer, etc. So why take this risk? I look forward to hearing you took action and start doing things. I have even given you a means to stand up at work and continue to work with the specialized desk. You have no excuse 😉
Back to you
I hope you enjoyed the post. Please do not forget to take action and like the post. Share it with your friends and families and please leave a comment below.
See you soon in another Omigy post.