We believe we are active and, on the move, but most of us spend a lot of time sitting at desks or in cars. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the average person sits for 6 hours daily. That’s almost two full days per week!
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Prolonged sitting is bad for your health. We know the dangers of smoking and excessive drinking, but what about the dangers of too much sitting? You might be surprised to learn that long inactive hours are associated with certain chronic diseases and an increased risk of premature death.
Do not risk your health with Prolonged Sitting
Sitting for hours causes serious health issues. Many of us know the disadvantages of spending too much time on the couch or at the desk. However, only some recognize the actual risks involved.
Prolonged sitting increases your risk of developing many life-threatening conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Sitting for long hours can cause muscle and joint pain; poor blood circulation; backaches; fatigue; stress on your internal organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Many people spend most of their day:
- Working in the office.
- Driving a car or bus.
- Flying in an aeroplane
These are all activities that involve prolonged sitting.
Even if you work out at the gym every day before or after work, you may need more to offset the time spent being sedentary during the rest of your day.
According to research by Dr. James Levine at Mayo Clinic (USA), if you sit for more than six hours per day on average, this could negatively impact your health.
Research shows that around 40% of people who sit for more than six hours per day are likely to die from any cause and twice the amount from heart disease or diabetes than those who sit for three hours or less. He recommends standing desks and walking meetings to reduce the time spent sitting.
Risks of prolonged sitting?
Prolonged sitting can lead to several health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Muscle and joint pain
- Poor blood circulation
Effects of prolonged sitting
Prolonged sitting can constrict the blood vessels in your legs, making it difficult for them to return blood to the heart. It can cause an increase in blood pressure, which may lead to cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol or an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Prolonged sitting also causes poor bone health and muscle strength and increases cancer risk.
Studies show that people who sit for long hours daily have higher fat levels around their waistlines, which increases their chances of developing a metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that raise your risk for heart disease and diabetes — than those who sit less often.
Constriction of the blood vessels
The blood vessels of your legs and feet are small, delicate structures. These fragile blood vessels can become constricted or narrowed if you spend long hours on a chair. It causes an overall reduction in circulation and varicose veins on the legs and feet that may be painful if not treated properly.
Type 2 diabetes
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher in people who sit more than 5 hours per day when compared to those who sit fewer than 2 hours a day. The risk increases with the hours you spend sitting: it’s even higher for people who sit for 8 or 10 hours per day compared to those who sit for fewer than 2 hours per day.
Poor cardiovascular health
Sitting for prolonged hours can cause blood to pool in your legs, which increases the risk of blood clots. Clots travelling to the lungs can cause pulmonary embolism, a serious condition that may lead to death. Prolonged sitting can also cause high blood pressure and heart disease.
Waist circumference and weight gain
Sitting for long periods is strongly associated with increased waist circumference and weight gain, leading to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It also poses a higher risk of death from any cause, particularly for those who sit for more than 8 hours per day. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who sit for prolonged periods had smaller amounts of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol than those who spent less time sitting down. Another study found that sitting at least 6 hours each day was associated with lower physical activity levels, which can increase the risk of developing certain cancers such as colorectal and endometrial cancer.
Weak bones and muscles
Sitting for long periods can cause your bones and muscles to weaken, resulting in a host of musculoskeletal problems, including muscle aches, pain and fatigue.
This is because when you sit still for too long, your body ceases to use the surrounding muscles as much as it usually would. It leads to back problems, posture problems, muscular imbalance and reduced flexibility.
If you frequently sit down at work or watch television with no breaks in between, it will likely affect your health negatively as it will gradually affect the strength of these muscles.
Risk of cancer
Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for many types of cancer, including colon, oesophagal, breast and prostate cancers. One study found that standing up could reduce your risk of colon cancer by nearly 20 percent. Those who sit down for long periods at work or in front of the television are also at higher risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease — all conditions that can cause certain types of cancers.
What you can do:
- Take frequent breaks from sitting throughout the day (e.g., stretch or walk around)
- Exercise regularly (preferably 30 minutes a day)
- Consider buying an exercise ball to use during meetings or while watching TV.
Regularly check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight. Try to lose weight if you are oversized. Eat healthy diet that include fruits and vegetables. Limit your intake of processed meats and foods high in fat, sugar or salt.
Also Read: Top 5 hospitals for breast cancer treatment
Beware! You are not sitting yourself to death.
If you’re sitting for long periods, getting up and moving around every 30 minutes is essential. This will help your blood flow and reduce your risk of developing poor blood circulation. You can also use compression socks. While they’re not exactly a fashion statement, they help improve blood circulation by increasing the amount of pressure on your legs. This helps push blood back into the body faster than it would without compression socks.
A 2016 study found that people who sit for more than 10 hours a day had a 38% higher risk of dying from any cause over the next three years. A recent study from Taiwan also found that long periods of sitting are associated with an increased risk of premature death from all causes and cancer—even when you exercise regularly.
Evidence for health hazards
Evidence for health risks associated with sitting is mounting. For example, people who sit more than 6 to 10 hours a day have a higher risk of dying from heart disease and cancer than those who sit less than 4 hours per day. In addition, the death risk is higher in people who sit for more than 6 to 10 hours a day than those who sit for less than 4 hours.
Spare some time exercising
The researchers say that while they don’t know precisely why sitting more is linked with an increased risk of death, it may be because it reduces the amount of exercise you do. This could be because people who sit more are less likely to do regular physical activity. They also say that sitting for long hours could reduce the amount of time people spend sleeping, leading to poor-quality sleep. The study’s findings were based on data from 106,958 adults who were part of the UK Biobank research project. All participants were free from cancer and heart disease when they enrolled between 2006 and 2010.
How exercising can keep you safe?
The researchers say their conclusions could have implications for the design of offices, schools, and hospitals. They say that employers should consider introducing sit-stand workstations or treadmill desks to help reduce levels of sedentary time in the workplace. In addition, they suggest that employers should make it easy for staff to take exercise breaks during the day. Our health experts suggest that reducing sedentary time may be an important target for reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. People who sit for more than eight hours a day are at higher risk of coronary heart disease than those who sit for less than four hours per day.
Health hazards of prolonged sitting have been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Studies say that sedentary behaviour can increase your risk of death by up to 40 percent.
You don’t need to hit the gym every day or run a marathon every weekend to be healthy. Just make sure you get up and move around every hour or so throughout the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
New guidance from the American Heart Association suggests that people should sit less and move more to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Our findings support this advice and recommend that reducing sedentary time may be an important target for reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.” The study was published in the European Heart Journal.
While the study does not provide a definitive answer on whether it’s better to sit or stand, it does support the idea that sitting too much is bad for your health. While the researchers say that more research is needed to understand precisely how sedentary behaviour affects heart disease risk, they advise that people should reduce their time spent sitting down as much as possible.
We hope this article has helped you understand the dangers of prolonged sitting. While it may seem easy, we recommend taking steps today to reduce your time spent sitting down. We know that change is hard and taking care of yourself can be difficult, but don’t let that stop you from making small changes in your life. Take walks during breaks at work or spend some time on activities outside each day (like gardening or playing with kids and pets) to help keep your body moving throughout the day! Most importantly, visit the HCM Pharmacy immediately if you encounter any health changes before your condition gets severe.