Excessive sitting has been linked to a host of health problems and even a lower life expectancy by many scientific studies. Among other things, researchers have reported that sitting for too long is associated with worse mental health and a higher risk of death from heart disease. Additionally, one study found that long hours of sitting increase the risk of prostate and breast cancer by 30%.
Many people spend the bigger part of their day sitting and have little to no physical activity, which puts them at risk for many health problems associated with the sedentary lifestyle. But new studies suggest that too much sitting is bad for you even if you get regular exercise. On average, a US adult spends 9-10 hours each day sitting and the effects of ten hours of inactivity can’t be counteracted by a 60-minute workout. Simply put, our bodies are designed to be active and move throughout the day, so here’s what happens when you sit for extended periods of time every day:
Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
When you sit for too long, your blood flows slower and your muscles burn less fat, which means that it’s easier for fatty acids to clog your heart. Apart from that, prolonged sitting contributes to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Certain studies have shown that people with a sedentary lifestyle have a 50% greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who perform moderate physical activities.
Increased risk of diabetes
Because of excessive sitting, your idle muscles could stop responding as readily to insulin, which will force the pancreas to constantly produce too much of it, resulting with diabetes. In fact, according to researchers, sitting for more than eight hours a day has been linked to a 90% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Increased risk of cancer
The exact mechanism for this is unknown, but science has already proven that too much sitting is associated with an increased risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer. One of the theories suggests that moving increases the amount of antioxidants in the body, which help eliminate cancer-causing free radicals. More specifically, certain findings report that sitting increases the risk of uterine cancer by 66% and colon cancer by 30%.
By compressing your abdominal contents, too much sitting slows down digestion and may lead to constipation, bloating, heartburn and dysbiosis in the gastrointestinal tract, increasing your risk for developing inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
Impaired brain function
Your brain function slows down when the body sits for too long because it receives less fresh blood and oxygen. And besides decreased cognitive sharpness, the lack of blood and oxygen reduces the production of mood-enhancing chemicals, leaving you with increased brain fog and irritability.
Sitting too much will also contribute to neck and shoulder pain, back problems caused by an inflexible spine and disc damage, improper posture, muscle degeneration, weak bones and even osteoporosis. Additionally, excess sitting interferes with the function of the lymphatic system, which helps the body suppress infections and get rid of waste.
These consequences are very serious and profound, so it’s worth trying to reduce the time you spend sitting every day, or find a way to throw in more pauses for walking or exercising. Make sure to stand while talking on the phone, eating lunch or socializing. If you’re job requires you to sit for prolonged periods of time, try to make a 10-minute pause every 45 minutes to stretch your body and move a bit. Also, here are two great videos that can help you counteract the effects of prolonged sitting:
And Here is what you could do!
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