Nothing good will ever come out of a sedentary life. Your chances for a better quality of life can also depend on the amount of time spent sitting or lying down.
If you move more during the day, you will lower the risk of early death than staying static for extended periods. Sitting too long, on the other hand, will increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, being overweight, and experiencing anxiety and depression.
How Does Sitting Too Long Affect Your Body?
Let’s put it this way: your heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively when standing upright because humans are built that way. The same goes for your bowel functions. This is why bedridden patients in hospitals experience problems with their bowel function.
Conversely, being physically active has positive effects. Your bones are stronger and more stable, your endurance is improved, and your overall energy levels are high.
Below are some examples of what happens to your body when you sit more during the day than move.
Stiff Neck and Shoulders
Spending a lot of time hunched over a computer keyboard can lead to stiffness and pain in your shoulders and neck.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when you’re sitting for too long, for example on a long car trip or plane ride. It’s a term for what happens when a blood clot forms in the veins of your leg.
DVT is a serious problem because when part of a blood clot in the leg breaks off and travels, it essentially cuts off the blood flow to other parts of the body, including your lungs, leading to pulmonary embolism. This is considered a medical emergency that can cause death.
Sitting for long periods is also one cause for varicose veins or spider veins because of blood pools in your legs. These aren’t serious, but in rare cases can lead to blood clots.
There have been studies describing the occurrence of increased insulin resistance when living a sedentary lifestyle. According to research, people who spend more time sitting down have a 112% higher risk of diabetes.
One study found that men who watch more than 23 hours of television a week have a 64% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than men who spend only 11 hours of TV per week.
Experts believe that people who sit for long periods have a 147% higher risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
A growing body of research suggests the dangers of extended sitting, which increases the risk of developing certain forms of cancer, including uterine, colon, and lung cancers. However, the reasons behind this are still being studied.
Anxiety and Depression
While there’s still more to understand about the relation between sitting and mental health, what we do know is that the risk of both anxiety and depression is higher in people with a sedentary lifestyle. One plausible reason is the lack of exercise and other physical activities.
Hips and Back
Your hips and back will not support you well enough if you sit for longer periods. Sitting for extended periods will cause your hip flexor muscles to stunt, leading to hip joint issues.
Sitting for a long time can also cause issues with your back, particularly if you’re continuously sitting with a bad posture or not using an ergonomically built chair or work station. Bad posture can also trigger poor spine health, such as disk compression of your spine, leading to premature degeneration, which can be very painful.
Moving your muscles helps the body absorb the fats and sugars that you consume. If you spend a lot of time sitting around, digestion is not as effective, so you keep those fats and sugars as fat in your body.
And if you workout but spend a lot of time sitting, you are also at risk for health issues, such as metabolic syndrome. Recent studies showed that you need 60–75 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day to counteract the risks of prolonged sitting.
Legs and Glutes
Sitting for a long time will lead to a weakening and wasting of the large leg and gluteal muscles. These large muscles are important for walking and stabilizing you. If these muscles are frail, you are more likely to be hurt by slips and strains as you workout.
What You Can Do to Counter Negative Effects
There is a lot of contradictory data, unfortunately, but good news exists as well.
The term Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) was coined by Dr. Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It shows how minor daily movements can overcome an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.
Scholars claim that moving every 30 minutes will significantly reduce the likelihood of premature death from inertia.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to go for a run. You need a “moderate workout,” that is, the equivalent of a quick walk. Your everyday chores add to your step count, so cleaning your kitchen helps. You can use apps to help you battle pain from a poor posture and remind you to move every half hour.
You ought to do something that burns more calories than lying down—-and yeah, that means merely getting up.
The U.S. Department of Health encourages us to take 10,000 steps a day. It is a workable target that is further sought by fitness programs such as Fitbit. If you can’t make it to 10,000 steps, increasing the total number of steps, even by tiny increments, is a smart idea. You could walk to work; spend an hour of gardening a week; or chat face to face, not by text.
What if you’re going on vacation?
Taking frequent breaks while driving. In a flight, you will normally walk down the aisle as well. It is also really necessary to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can lead to blood clots. Buy support socks and try to move in every direction you can. Simply consistently rotating the ankles in circular movements will help.
How To Begin a Healthy Lifestyle
A study of over 127,000 adults in the US over a 21-year period was published by the American Journal of Epidemiology. It found a disturbing array of disorders, including cancer; strokes; kidney, lung, and liver disease; Parkinson’s disease; and Alzheimer’s disease, as consequences of sitting all day.
This sounds terrifying. But don’t treat maintaining a fit and safe work lifestyle as a great obstacle. These are short interruptions to procedures that damage the body. Good health is worth working hard for.