Sitting too long is a deed we are all equally guilty of committing in our day to day lives. While it is an utopia to think that we can come up with an alternative that completely does away with sitting, many of us actually do not know the extent of damage that sitting too long on chairs actually does to our bodies. We all promise ourselves to make healthier changes in our lifestyle by working out more (Yeah! Good luck with that..) to counteract the ill-effects that take their toll on our health. It is more often than not our professional duties that require us to work for really long hours which are usually spent at our work desks. Thanks to recent researches being conducted and awareness being spread on various lifestyle diseases, work places are coming up with innovative ways to actually improve your health while working like installing treadmills in the office, flexible gym timings, walking conferences and stuff like that. We might think that many of these research findings are exaggerated and thereby not actually affecting us and choose to ignore them. Many of our daily lamentations of pain are actually linked to this and yet we are not aware of it, hereby is a list of the top 10 health disadvantages of sitting too long on chairs.
Yes. Sitting too long actually affects your digestion. Settling into your chair soon after a meal leads to the compression of the contents in the abdomen which slows down the process of digestion resulting in cramps, bloating, heart burn and constipation. It is no wonder that many people today suffer from constipation as opposed to the generation before when constipation was actually considered a disease that came with the progression of age. Delayed digestion also causes microbial imbalance in the intestines resulting in a chain of processes like inflammation and irritable bowels that further degrade your health.
9. Brain damage
Immobility of the body for long duration of time results in the shutting down of our brains. It slows down after a stretch of sedentary period and the supply of fresh blood and oxygen to the brain decreases which are required for triggering the release of mood and brain enhancing chemicals. This by extension can infer that long sedentary periods pushes one slowly into depression. Today the increased instances of clinical depression in people working in the various white collar jobs are resultant of these effects. Apart from depression there is also the case of lethargy and decreased energy levels to carry out physical tasks and in the whole low energy expenditure of the body.
8. Leg disorders
As our legs are unused during most part of our sitting, this decreases circulation to the legs causing ankle swelling, varicose veins and deep vein blood clots. Also as our body is designed to be continually in motion, activities like walking, running and lifting weights actually help to strengthen the bones and increase their bone mineral density. Due to inactivity the bone density of our leg bones are affected leading to brittle bones and increased chances of fractures and other bone related disorders.
7. Pancreatic disorders
Excessive sitting messes up the body’s system to produce insulin. On prolonged periods of sitting our body ends up producing more insulin than is needed. This again sets of a chain reaction of storage of fat, increased chances of heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.
6. Heart Problems
Increase in sitting time raises your chances of developing cardio-vascular diseases like blood clotting, heart disorders, fat clogging in the blood vessels, risen cholesterol levels, strokes etc., this is due to the slower flow of the blood in the body and lesser burning of fat in the muscles. In fact studies prove that these long hours increase your risks for heart disease by up-to 64% (which is a lot!) And for each hour spent sitting, the levels of deposits in your blood vessels rise by 14% and that even regular gym visits, running and other physical exertions amounted to nothing in mitigating the risks. Yet experts insist on at least 30 minutes of exercise to maintain your cardio-vascular fitness.
5. Degeneration of Muscles
The act of sitting up does not actually require much use of the abdominal muscles. And their insufficient functioning results in weak abdominals in people with sedentary lifestyles. The hip also remains more or less immobile during the prolonged periods of sitting and they tighten and can hardly stretch or extend their range of motion. This results in the degeneration of the hip muscles and may lead to falls due to decreased mobility of the hip. Also your glutes weaken affecting your stability and stride while walking or jumping.
4. Posture Defects
This is a side effect of sitting too long that we have all experienced at some point of time. Who doesn’t remember that life wrenching pain of the lower back that comes with standing after a few hours of slumping in front of a computer?! The very act of sitting up requires your spine and neck to support the entire weight of your upper body. Our spine is designed in such a way as to contract and extend for the various positions we assume for our daily activities. The posture of sitting straight actually crunches the disks in our back that support our spine. While this is okay for a short duration, extending the time period means the disks staying in a compressed position that can lead to the eroding of their flexibility and increased chances of herniated disks, it also puts excess pressure on the lower back and tenses the surrounding muscles and joints. Sitting requires our pelvis to rotate backwards and put pressure on the lumbar disks and this pushes the head forward and curves the shoulders to handle the transfer of weight. Continuing this position can lead to serious posture defects with rounded shoulders and jutting out of necks. Most of us lean forward while sitting, this strains the neck vertebrae and can result in permanent imbalances, neck strain, sore neck and shoulders.
Obesity is a disease that many are fighting in today’s world. While it is not always required to meet pre-defined body standards, it is very important to remain healthy to carry on with one’s life. Long hours of sitting increases the release of insulin into our bloodstream. The body reacts to this increased insulin production by storing fat. This is a very significant factor that contributes to obesity in people. Also the overall energy expenditure of the body decreases many fold due to sitting as the major muscle groups of the body remain inactive and results in lesser burning of calories and weight gain and severe cases of obesity. Sitting has also been linked to increased cholesterol levels in people adding on to obesity and heart diseases.
India happens to be the diabetic capital of the world today. There are many factors that actually contribute to diabetes including changing food patterns, lifestyles, work cultures and many, many more. When it comes to sitting, it impairs the ability of the body to handle blood sugar levels and lowers sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Increased amounts of insulin produced may lead to diabetes. Research proves that sitting for more than 8 hours increases the risk for Type-II diabetes by 90%.
Sedentary lifestyle increases the risks for all types of cancer. The excessive insulin production promotes cell growth in our body and due to absence of the anti-oxidants that are produced by regular movement of the body, which have the capacity to kill potential cancer cells, the chances of developing cancer rises by a substantial amount. The cancers that develop particularly due to sitting for long hours include colon, breast and endometrial cancers.
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