How Prolonged Sitting Could Shorten Your Life
Although humans are built to stand upright, evolution hasn’t quite caught up with modern times when it comes to how often the typical human sits in the developed world. Most bodily systems, from the heart to the bones and bowels, work more efficiently in an upright posture.
Sedentary behavior can be harmful to your health, but how can you avoid it? After all, sitting is one of the most common body postures. Whether you’re at an office job, you’re studying, watching TV, or commuting, more likely than not you’re doing these activities while seated. In fact, more than half of the typical person’s day is spent sitting down.
That doesn’t mean that sitting for hours on end is good for you. Evidence suggests the more sedentary a person is, the more likely they are to die prematurely. Put simply, sedentary behavior is linked to a plethora of conditions and diseases. Scientists seek to understand why by studying how inactive people compare when it comes to their risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes or heart conditions.
Those who sit too frequently are at risk of the following:
- Weight gain: Digestion isn’t as efficient while sitting, meaning you can hold on to the fats and sugars you eat.
- Back pain: Those who sit frequently have an increased risk of poor spine health and premature spinal disc degeneration. This is especially true if they have poor posture, don’t use ergonomically designed chairs or workstations, and don’t work out.
- Depression: The correlation between excessive sitting and depression isn’t quite clear, but researchers think it could correspond to a lack of exercise.
- Type 2 diabetes: The risk of developing diabetes is 112% higher in those who walk fewer than 1,500 steps per day.
- Varicose veins: Prolonger sitting can cause blood to pool in the legs. Although varicose veins are usually not dangerous, they can be very painful if left untreated.
- And more
Why Moving Is Better than Sitting
Most everyday non-exercise activity burns calories, even such as walking, standing, or even fidgeting. Sitting or lying down burns very few calories compared to standing or moving. This is why those with more physically active jobs are able to burn far more calories than, say, office workers. That’s because agricultural workers burn up to 1,000 more calories per day than those who have a desk job. Research shows how the average office employee sits up to 15 hours per day, on average. Of course, office workers may not be able to avoid sitting for hours at a time, being chained to their desks at least 8 hours per day.
However, the sad fact is that regular exercise doesn’t completely offset the adverse effects of frequent sitting.
So, what can be done?
How to Counteract Excessive Sitting
You may have no choice when it comes to sitting 8+ hours a day. After all, if you work in an office, there may be no option to stand up for at your desk. The problem is only made worse by commuting to work and proceeding to come home from work and relax on the couch.
The good news is, you’re in control. It’s not too late to gain the health benefits of incorporating more physical activity into your day. Be more active by using the stairs rather than the elevator, getting off the bus one stop early, parking farther away from wherever you’re going, and taking walks during your rest breaks. If you don’t have a standup option for your desk, you can buy a monitor/keyboard stand so you can work while standing and let yourself stretch your legs. You may even notice an improvement in any lower back pain within a few days.
Contact us at Comprehensive Spine Institute by dialing (727) 300-2537 or reach out online to book your appointment with our orthopedic doctors.