It’s believed that more than 25% of us live a sedentary lifestyle. This involves sitting down for most of the day whether it’s watching the TV, working at a desk or driving.
Most of us are regularly told that sitting down for long periods is unhealthy, but what exactly are the health dangers. Here are just a few of the possible negative health consequences of sitting down all day.
You’ll gain weight
The most obvious health risk is weight gain. Without being active, the body is unable to burn off excess calories. Sitting down also weakens muscles – these often end up converting into fat. The thighs and stomach are common places for fat to store up as these muscles are rarely used at all when sitting down.
It’s bad for your joints
Sitting down all day is also bad on the joints. Because a sedentary lifestyle can cause weight gain, this extra weight can then put pressure on the joints such as the knees and hips. This increased pressure can then cause cartilage to wear away, which can eventually lead to bones rubbing against one another – a well-known condition known as osteoarthritis.
It can cause sciatica
A sedentary lifestyle can also increase the risk of sciatica. This is a condition that usually results in pain leading from the lower back all the way down the leg. Sciatic nerve pain is believed to be caused by discs from the spine irritating the sciatic nerve root, which itself is linked to spending too much time sitting down. Such pain can be chronic and can seriously affect day-to-day life.
It can cause DVT
DVT (deep vein thrombosis) is the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein, usually in the legs. It is sympathized by reddening and swelling. A common cause of DVT is sitting down for long periods – restricted movement stops blood from flowing freely, which can then cause it to clot. DVT is dangerous if not treated and has been linked to heart attacks.
It’s bad for your heart
Sitting down all day can negatively affect the heart is various ways. The heart, like any muscle, needs to be exercises to keep it healthy – this can only be done through physical exercise. As stated already, sitting down all day also increases the risk of clots through restricted movement.
It’s bad for your back
A sedentary lifestyle can also be bad for your back. The back becomes stiff and weak when sat down for long periods as it’s not been used to support your body. Craning over a desk can be particularly bad for the back – if you spend all day at a desk, you should try to get into a habit of sitting up straight.
It’s bad for your mental health
Staying sedentary could also have a negative impact on your mental health. There have been many links that show exercise to be good for the mind – it pumps the body full of feelgood endorphins, which help to fight stress. Exercise also helps to get a fresh supply of oxygen to the brain, helping to improve concentration. All this can help to improve mental health. By being sedentary all day, you won’t be getting these benefits of exercise.
You’re more susceptible to diabetes
Sitting down for long periods also increases the risk of diabetes. This is because a sedentary lifestyle can result in changes to the body’s metabolism including insulin resistance. This can lead to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can result in multiple organ failure if it isn’t treated properly.
There’s a greater risk of dementia
There’s also a strong correlation between people that live a sedentary lifestyle and people that develop dementia. While scientists aren’t entirely sure as to why this is, it’s another good reason to not spend all day sitting around.
There’s a greater risk of cancer
To top it all off, a sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to an increase in the risk of cancer. Lung, head and neck cancers are some of the most common types associated with sitting down for long periods
How To Take A Stand…
With so many possible negative health consequences, it should be easy to see why we should all be spending more time on our feet and less time sitting. Of course, taking a stand isn’t easy, as many activities are more practical to perform while sitting (you can’t drive a lorry while standing).
If your job requires you to spend long periods sat down, you may be able to compensate for this by exercising a lot out of work hours. If you usually commute to work by car, consider whether walking might be an option. If this isn’t possible, you could always go to a gym in your spare time or go jogging or simply exercise from home. This could help to give the mind and body the physical activity that it needs.
There are some commonly sedentary activities can be done whilst standing up or exercising. For instance, you don’t have to be sat down to watch the TV and could add in workouts such as squats and push ups as you watch certain shows. Standing desks meanwhile are becoming an option in some offices, allowing workers to use computers whilst standing.
You don’t have to be on your feet all the time to make a positive impact to your lifestyle. In fact, simply going on a five minute walk on your lunch break instead of sitting at your desk the whole time could make a difference.