Today, individuals spend more time sitting in front of computer screens at work, playing video games or watching movies and TV shows. This lack of activity has become a concern among health experts.
Recent studies find that sitting too much can be as hazardous to the body as smoking. The constriction of blood flow and lack of movement can cause a number of effects that damage overall health. The findings are causing many individuals to rethink how they spend their work and leisure time, striving to find ways to add more motion, stretching and healthy activity to their day. Here are 4 ways that a sedentary lifestyle can affect your body.
1. Sitting Negatively Affects Posture
Working in a sitting position puts the body into positions that are detrimental to good posture. Many people develop low back problems, hip pain, upper back and neck pain from constantly sitting in a hunched position over work tasks or in front of computer screens. Over time, this limited position can lead to joint problems, poor vein function and weak muscles in the lower body.
The sitting position also constricts internal organs. In addition, chronic sitters often develop weak abdominal muscles, lower back pain and neck dysfunction, with limited range of motion. Sitting constricts the blood vessels and affects circulation throughout the body. When you stand and move around throughout the day, you counteract these damaging effects.
2. Sitting Slows Your Metabolism & Increases Risk of Obesity
The human metabolism is designed to provide fuel for movement, so when individuals move less, they burn food for fuel abnormally. This effect can cause more abdominal body fat, a slower metabolic rate and creeping weight gain. Experts believe that a more sedentary population is why type-2 diabetes is increasing, worldwide.
Obesity is one of the prime factors that increase the risk not only for diabetes, but also for heart disease, stroke and a host of other health problems. Even certain types of cancer have been linked to obesity. Movement helps to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Even standing while you work burns more calories than merely sitting, which is why standing desks have become so popular in the workplace.
3. Sitting Increases Blood Sugar & Cholesterol Levels
Research also finds that the decrease in circulation and metabolic processes can also lead to higher blood cholesterol levels and higher blood sugar levels. Maintaining a sitting position for long periods can also increase triglyceride levels, a component in the blood associated with heart function.
These factors can lead to greater risk for type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in individuals who spend long periods of each day in a sitting position. Making sure you increase your physical movement throughout the day can help to counteract this effect.
4. Sitting Affects Brain Health
The surprising results of many studies are that sitting has such wide-ranging effects. While you would expect sitting to affect muscle tone and joint health, you might not consider that it could also have an effect on brain health.
Scientists have found individuals who sit for long periods during the day have thinner tissue in the area of the body associated with memory. Although they are unsure whether this thinning of tissue can lead directly to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, they recommend more physical activity during the day to counteract the effects of sitting.
Unfortunately, studies suggest that increasing exercise to make up for long hours of sitting may not be enough to offset the negative effects of constant sitting. Regular breaks and movement throughout the day may be helpful in counteracting the negative brain effects of sedentary living.
Human beings are designed to move, and this movement provides many beneficial effects for the body. If you want to stay healthy, well into your later years, be aware of the damaging effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
You can counteract the negative effects of constant sitting by changing your daily habits. Take active measures to get your body moving, with regular exercise, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking some distance away from your building to increase walking and getting up to stretch your muscles throughout the day. Your efforts will be rewarded with a longer and healthier life.
By Amanda Richardson