The dangers of sitting too much
Many of us spend large chunks of our day sitting, especially when we’re at work. If we’re not glued to a computer screen or tethered to a phone, then we’re stuck in seats around tables in meetings. And that’s on top of the hours we spend sitting in cars, buses or trains getting to and from work.
All this sitting seems to increase your risk of death from heart disease and other causes, research has found. And surprisingly, this happens even if you exercise regularly.
“If you do 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise, you tick the box of being active,” says Melbourne exercise researcher, Dr David Dunstan. “But then you potentially have 15 or so hours a day when you’re not sleeping and not exercising that you could be spending predominantly sitting.”
There’s evidence the typical office worker is sedentary for 75 per cent of their working day. From research conducted over the past decade, it’s become clear this sitting affects our body’s processing of fats and sugars in ways that increase our risk of heart disease and diabetes.
And exercising every day won’t necessarily undo this damage. In fact, excessive sitting might undo the benefits of our daily exercise.
“When we’re idle, we’re not contracting muscles and muscle contraction is an important component of the body’s regulatory processes,” says Dunstan, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. In fact, one American expert, Professor Marc Hamilton, from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, has gone so far as to suggest sitting for most of the day may be as dangerous to health as smoking.
Sitting could be an effective way relaxing but other hand, excessive sitting or sitting too much causes serious damages to your health. Here are some breakdowns of how it happens
- ORGAN DAMAGE
- Heart disease
Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly during a long sit, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart. Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least.
- over productive pancreas
The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, so the pancreas produces more and more, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases. A 2011 study found a decline in insulin response after just one day of prolonged sitting.
- Colon cancer
Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth. Another is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants that kill cell-damaging— and potentially cancer-causing — free radicals.
- MUSCLE DEGENERATION
- Mushy abs
When you stand, move or even sit up straight, abdominal muscles keep you upright. But when you slump in a chair, they go unused. Tight back muscles and wimpy abs form a posture-wrecking alliance that can exaggerate the spine’s natural arch, a condition called hyperlordosis, or swayback.
- Tight hips
Flexible hips help keep you balanced, but chronic sitters so rarely extend the hip flexor muscles in front that they become short and tight, limiting range of motion and stride length. Studies have found that decreased hip mobility is a main reason elderly people tend to fall.
- limp glutes
Sitting requires your glutes to do absolutely nothing, and they get used to it. Soft glutes hurt your stability, your ability to push off and your ability to maintain a powerful stride.
- LEG DISORDERS
- Poor circulation in legs
Sitting for long periods of time slows blood circulation, which causes fluid to pool in the legs. Problems range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to dangerous blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Soft bones
Weight-bearing activities such as walking and running stimulate hip and lower-body bones to grow thicker, denser and stronger. Scientists partially attribute the recent surge in cases of osteoporosis to lack of activity.
- TROUBLE AT THE TOP
- Foggy brain
Moving muscles pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and trigger the release of all sorts of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals. When we are sedentary for a long time, everything slows, including brain function.
- strained neck
If most of your sitting occurs at a desk at work, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard or tilting your head to cradle a phone while typing can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.
- Sore shoulders and back
The neck doesn’t slouch alone. Slumping forward overextends shoulder and back muscles as well, particularly the trapezius, which connects the neck and shoulders.
- BAD BACK
- Inflexible spine
When we move, soft discs between vertebrae expand and contract like sponges, soaking up fresh blood and nutrients. But when we sit for a long time, discs are squashed unevenly. Collagen hardens around tendons and ligaments.
- disk damage
People who sit more are at greater risk for herniated lumbar disks. A muscle called the psoas travels through the abdominal cavity and, when it tightens, pulls the upper lumbar spine forward. Upper-body weight rests entirely on the ischial tuberosity (sitting bones) instead of being distributed along the arch of the spine.
- Mortality of sitting
People who watched the most TV in an 8.5-year study had a 61 percent greater risk of dying than those who watched less than one hour per day.
- The right way to sit
If you have to sit often, try to do it correctly. As Mom always said, “Sit up straight.”
* Not leaning forward
* Shoulders relaxed
* Arms close to sides
* Elbows bent 90°
* Lower back maybe supported
* Feet flat on floor