Sitting too much? This is what happens to your body.

Sitting for over 6 hours a day does not just give you a wide rear, but it also harms you in many more severe ways. Despite the growing availability of ergonomic products and workplace offerings like flexible gym hours, doctors believe many desk potatoes have already done lasting damage to their bodies as a result of sitting down all day. 

Here are 10 adverse effects on the body that can occur from sitting at your desk for too long 

  • ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION: Sitting for long hours reduces circulation. It’s harder for “feel-good hormones” to make their way to receptors. The mental health benefits of fitness are lacking when one spends their days sitting down rather than moving.
  • WEAK MUSCLES: Challenging your muscles and keeping it busy on regular basis is what keeps your muscles healthy. When muscles are locked down in one position due to long hours of sitting, they tend to get stiff. After years of sitting for long hours, your muscles get weak and are not as proficient at running, jumping or even standing.
  • DIABETES: Sitting at a desk all day impairs the body’s ability to handle blood sugar, causing a reduced sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which helps carry glucose from the blood into cells where it can be used for energy. Studies have shown that people who spend more time sitting all day have a 112% increased risk of diabetes (1). 
  • HIP PROBLEMS: By sitting all day, you’re not depending on your powerful lower body muscles to hold you up. This leads to muscle atrophy, which is the weakening of these muscles. Your gluteus muscles are some of the most important muscles in your legs. They are responsible for helping you keep balance. When you sit for a longtime, your glutes are at rest and doing nothing but cushioning you. Without strong leg and glute muscles to stabilize you, your body is at risk of injury. 
  • INCREASED RISK OF CANCER: Emerging studies have shown that sitting can increase your risk of certain types of cancer, including lung, uterine, and colon cancers. A study (2 )published in  Journal of the National Cancer Institute said that sitting for long periods of time can increase risk of cancer by about 66%.  
  • BAD POSTURE: When you sit for too long, it becomes difficult to maintain good posture. You will naturally begin to slouch and slump as you re-position yourself to keep comfortable. Before too long, this slouching at the desk will begin to affect your posture when you stand and walk. Poor posture doesn’t only look unattractive, but it’s painful and messes up the spin.
  • INCREASED RISK OF HEART DISEASE: Sitting can hurt your heart, potentially leading to cardiovascular disease. From driving in your car to sitting in your office chair and watching television on the couch, people sit more than they may realize. A study (3) has shown a 64% increased risk of heart disease in men who are sedentary. 
  • WEIGHT GAIN & OBESITY: One of the more obvious and faster hitting consequences of sitting too much is that it’s easy to gain weight. Sitting at a desk reduces a person’s energy expenditure because the body’s major muscle groups aren’t being utilized and calorie burning is minimized. Over an extended period of time this can lead to weight gain and in severe cases obesity. This doesn’t only affect the way you look and feel, but you’re putting yourself at risk for a number of serious health complications. 
  • VARICOSE VEINS: Varicose veins is a condition where blood pools in the leg veins, increasing pressure within the veins. As a result, the veins can stretch, which may weaken the walls of the veins and damage the valves. This can happen due to sitting for a long time. In rare cases varicose veins can lead to more serious conditions like blood clots.  
  • CHRONIC PAIN: We know that sitting for long hours can cause weight gain, but when this is combined with poor posture it can lead to issues with chronic pain. When you sit for a long time, the muscles on your neck and back tense up and this can lead to severe aches and pin in the neck, shoulder and back.  

Now having spoken about how sitting for long hours is bad for you. Let’s looks at a few things you can do to stay active at work. 

  • Have standing/walking meetings. 
  • Whenever possible walk to the person, instead of calling or sending an email. 
  • Take Stretching breaks every 30 min 
  • Take the stairs 
  • Start an office fitness challenge 
  • Take brakes to move about in office for about 5-10 min.  
  • Park your car a few blocks away from your work entrance. 

Taking such small steps can help you avoid a lot of health issues in the future and help you live a healthier life.  

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Rithika Rajgopal

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