You may have heard the phrase "sitting is the new smoking," and there is a lot of scientific evidence to back up this claim. Studies conducted over the years have shown that sitting for extended periods can be extremely harmful to our overall health. Not only can it lead to numerous diseases and disorders which reduce our quality of life, it can actually lead to an early death. With a large amount of use spending days working at a desk in front of a computer and evenings on the couch in front of the television, it's no wonder that there has been an increase in illnesses associated with inactivity or sitting too much. Here are some specific ways that sitting too much can impact your health:
1. Leads to weight gain
It's no secret that the less active we are, the fewer calories we burn and the more weight we will gain. Moving around helps our bodies properly digest and metabolize the food we eat. When we are sedentary for long periods, this food isn't processed as efficiently as it is when we’re more active, which increases our Body Mass Index and causes our waistline to grow. If you’re not eating a healthy diet and/or are eating too much in the first place, sitting too much only makes weight gain that much more likely.
2. Reduces your energy and productivity
Extended periods of relative inactivity slow down our body’s processes and can also cause our mind to feel foggy, leading to concentration issues and reduced overall productivity. If you’ve ever spent a day expending very little energy while doing very little and yet still end up feeling exhausted at the end of the day, you’ve seen first-hand how sitting for long periods can affect your energy levels.
3. Can weaken your muscles
Sitting too much can lead to a weakening and deterioration in the muscles of our lower body, especially our quads, hamstrings and glutes. These very large muscle groups are responsible for helping us stand, walk and keep our balance and weakness in these can lead to mobility issues and an increased risk of falling.
4. Can cause back and neck pain
Most of us do not sit properly. Our posture is poor, our chairs are often not ergonomically designed to provide the kind of support we need in the places we need it most and our computers & monitors are not positioned at the right height or distance from us. Spending hours in this condition, day after day, can strain our necks, tighten our shoulders, cause our backs to ache and can even lead to chronic pain. Of course, switching to a properly designed chair, moving your computer screen to eye level or moving to a variable desk can make a big difference.
5. Leads to vascular issues
When we sit, the blood supply to our lower legs is inhibited. While our bodies can adapt to this problem in the short term, sitting for extended periods over days, weeks, or even years can lead to serious vascular issues. Spider veins or painful varicose veins can occur due to blood pooling in your legs and in severe cases, blood clots, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can form.
6. Affects your mental health
Although the reasons behind it are still unclear, numerous studies have shown that sitting too much harms the state of our mental health. People who spend most of their time sitting have a higher risk of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's and are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
7. Increases your risk of Diabetes
When we’re active, our body converts the sugars we have eaten into fuel to support the activity. But when we’re inactive, as we are when we spend most of our time sitting down, our bodies don't consume that extra energy which causes the sugar to build up in our bloodstream. This can lead to insulin resistance and, ultimately, to Type 2 Diabetes and a host of severe symptoms and complications.
8. Increase your risk of heart disease & stroke
A lack of physical activity in your daily routine has been directly linked to cardiovascular issues. The more time you spend sitting down, the less time you are active, which can cause problems with your heart, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Studies have proven that those who spend a considerable amount of time sitting down are at a much higher risk of suffering from a heart attack.
Too much time spent sitting can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health. However, incorporating at least twenty minutes of moderate activity into our day and getting up from our desks to move around every thirty minutes or so, can make a big difference.
If you find yourself suffering from the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, Physiomed can help. Our team of qualified Physiotherapists and other health professionals can help you with developing a plan for getting you back to feeling Healthier. Contact us today and let us show you why, at Physiomed, Healthier Starts Here.