Sedentary Lifestyle: 7 Reasons Why Sitting Is Killing You
Many office workers have heard at this point that too much sitting is the new smoking. By not getting as much physical activity in a day as we should, we increase the risk of poor health outcomes for ourselves.
But, how can long periods of sitting all day negatively affect your health? What goes on in the body when this happens and how do you fix it? Let’s take a look at why the modern sedentary lifestyle is harmful to your long-term health.
Is It Unhealthy To Sit All Day?
The simple fact is that prolonged sitting all day is actually unhealthy for you. There is a scale to how bad this practice can be depending on time spent sitting and how much exercise you get during the week. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that many health professionals consider the dangers of sitting to be the modern killer, like smoking tobacco before that.
The reason for this is the inactivity that comes with sitting. As a relaxed position, sitting doesn’t engage many muscle groups. Without the regular exercise, our bodies evolved to expect, the various systems of our body degrade and weaken. Sitting can also put your body in a poor posture, hurting the now-weak muscles and nerves of your body.
Health experts recommend doing what you can to avoid being sedentary. Exercise can have a lot of positive health benefits. Also, using height adjustable desks reduces sedentary behavior.
How Many Hours Of Sitting Is Too Much?
Studies have been done to determine how much sitting is too much for the body. In general, it’s recommended that over an eight-hour workday, you should try to be standing for at least half of it.
It can be hard to start off doing this though, especially for the majority of adults that tend to be seated while working. Ideally, you’d want to start by standing at work for two hours a day and working up from there.
However, there’s more to life than just work. It’s estimated that the average adult spends an additional two hours each day sitting at home, bringing the total number of hours seated a day to ten. Considering that four hours is the maximum folks should be aiming for, it’s no surprise that so many adults report conditions that can be linked back to sedentary habits.
What Are The Side Effects Of Sitting Too Long?
How can prolonged sitting be bad? Many studies are showing the dangers of sitting all day is bad for you, but what are the exact mechanics behind this?
To start, too much sitting can increase your risk of exposure to the following health risks and diseases:
Heart attack and heart disease: Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest killers of Americans, partly due to the increased frequency of a sedentary lifestyle.
Stroke and blood clots: Similarly, strokes, and the blood clots that can cause them, are more likely to form by someone sitting all day.
High blood pressure: Without exercise to help flush out the plague in the arteries, someone who sits all day has an increased chance of having high blood pressure.
Blood circulation loss: With poor blood flow and increased pressure, the body can’t circulate blood in the same way.
Muscle weakness: Between the lack of exercise and blood flows, muscles weaken as they receive no reason to grow or nutrients from being sedentary.
Weakened immune system: Because most sitting happens indoors, your body isn’t exposed to the same immune signals or sunlight for vitamin production, weakening your ability to fight infection.
Cancer risk: Finally, tumors are more likely to form in folks with sedentary lifestyles than those that get some exercise each day.
What Happens When You Sit For 8 Hours A Day?
With the outcomes of sitting all day laid out, let’s look at what is going on inside the human body that causes these issues to show up.
First, our muscular and skeletal systems in our body evolved to work best when standing. In a standing position, our body is best able to fit into the correct posture, which can affect mood and productivity in addition to reducing fatigue in our muscles.
Also, major muscle groups in our body work harder when standing or exercising. Some of these muscle groups, such as your leg muscles or your glutes, grow weaker the more time you spend sitting each day. Over time, this weakness causes an increased risk of injury or strain if you exercise or have an accident.
Your cardiovascular system also expects you to be standing most of your day. This system evolved to pump our blood best when standing or walking, meaning that blood doesn't flow as effectively when one sits all day. The pressure placed on the back and legs while seated can prevent blood from moving well in these areas, contributing to that weak feeling mentioned earlier.
Finally, your body views sitting as a period of relaxation and reduced caloric requirements. In other words, when you’re seated, your body doesn’t burn as many calories. This is because hormones like insulin don’t respond to glucose as effectively. The outcome of this resistance is the increased weight gain and risk of diabetes, which are serious health issues that many sedentary folks experience.
How Do You Treat Sitting Disorder?
The easiest way to treat these disorders and increased risk factors is to find ways to introduce standing and light activity into your busy day. Of course, that can be easier said than done without some help.
How Can I Become More Active After Being Sedentary?
If you’re not sure where to start to become more active in your day, then here are some recommendations or ideas to get you started:
Grab A Standing Desk
While it’s not the same as exercising, standing can help alleviate some of the risks of being in one place all day for work. Many folks have jobs that require them to be at their desk all day to handle their tasks. A standing desk can put your body into a better position or posture, helping improve some of the workflow issues sitting all day, every day can cause.
Ideally, your sit-stand desk would be height-adjustable. A height-adjustable desk lets you dial in the top surface of the desk to the correct position for you to work comfortably while standing or sitting. You'll also need an adjustable monitor arm to ensure your screen is at eye level whenever you're sitting or standing. Check out our guide to choosing the best monitor arm if you'd like more tips. Also, most adjustable desks have an electric or pneumatic motor, meaning you won’t have to physically lift your desk to move its work surface.
With an adjustable sit-stand desk, you can work your way up from sitting all day to splitting your time between both standing and sitting gradually.
Find Way to Increase Your Movement During The Day
The easiest way to add some movement to your workday is to get up from your desk. So many office workers feel the need to stay at their desks to prevent missing any important calls or emails. The issue is that this feeling causes folks to stay seated even when there isn’t any imperative communication coming in.
Your commute can be a good place to add in some extra exercise, depending on where you live compared to your workplace.
Either way, here are some ideas on where you might be able to incorporate some movement into your workday to reduce health problems:
Stand on the bus or subway, rather than sit.
Walk or bike to work if it is close enough
Take a walk during your lunch break
Look for errands at work that require movement, such as hand-delivering documents
Use the stairs whenever you can instead of an elevator/escalator.
Reduce Your Number of Sedentary Home Habits
Most adults spend an extra two hours every workday sitting at home, let alone the number of hours spent sitting on days off of work. Regardless of where you spend your time seated, prolonged sitting can harm your health.
However, in the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to see how one can get relaxed and stay seated, especially after long days or weeks at the office. Still, when you are home, you have the most control over how you spend your time, meaning you might be able to find creative ways to add some standing or exercise time to your home life.
If you’re stuck, here are some points of inspiration you might consider to avoid sitting all day at home:
Find a physical hobby you can enjoy at home, such as a sport or gardening.
Walk around your home when on the phone with someone, rather than sitting down.
Get up for a stretch or walk break during TV commercials or every thirty minutes of playing video games.
Set a reminder alarm to move every so often when you are sitting at home.
What Happens If You Sit All Day?
Sitting all day can lead to some nasty health outcomes if done too much. Our bodies didn’t evolve to be sedentary, meaning that getting some physical activity every day is important to maintaining your health and mental state.
While exercise can solve many of these problems, something as simple as some extra walk breaks at work or a standing desk can go a long way to getting your body in a better state. Regardless of how you get yourself moving more, the key is to avoid the temptation of sitting around to keep your body happy and healthy! Check out Desky's range of standing desks and get your new height adjustable desk today.