In our first post we spoke about the excessive time many of us spend sitting a day. To give you a little reminder, on average it’s 9 hours and that is not including the time when we are asleep. In this article you will find out what exactly happens to your body when you become another sitting victim.
The first link between illness and sitting was observed in 1950. When researchers found out that bus drivers were twice more likely to have heart attacks than their bus conductor colleagues. It's believed excessive sitting slows the metabolism, which affects our ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.
You might be thinking now it isn’t really you, but think again. Think about your time commuting to and back from work, watching your favourite show, having lunch etc., it begins to sum up. Unfortunately, human body is not not made to sit down this much. Despite the time your daily training this may still now be enough. According to Peter T.Katzmarzyk, Ph.D.
“Even within physically active individuals, there was a strong association between sitting and risk mortality. This is an important observation because it suggests that high amounts of sitting cannot be compensated for with occasional leisure time physical activity even if the amount exceeds the current minimum physical activity recommendations” T.Katzmarzyk,Ph.D.
It is indeed difficult to realize how such an innocent act can damage our body in any way, but it does. “We are made up of 360 joints and over 700 muscles that move your skeleton. Our vascular and nervous system depend on movement to function” says Mohamed Taha, clinical director at Form Clinic. So here is a list of everything that could happen to you:
- It may occur as a surprise to you but sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing. The disks in your back are meant to expand and contract as you move so they can properly absorb blood and nutrients. Unfortunately, when you sit the disks are compressed and can lose flexibility over time
- Neck and shoulders. “The average person is not able to sit down for more than three minutes without falling into a slumped or slouched posture” Mohamed Taha explains. It leads to strains to your cervical vertebrae along with permanent imbalances, sore shoulders and back. We are sure you have suffered it more than once after whole day at work.
Legs and Hips
- Muscle Degeneration. “If you don’t use them, you lose them”. Sitting all day does not require support from your lower body muscles to hold you up and causes muscles atrophy. Weakening of these muscles highly increases your risk of injury.
- Varicose Veins. Sitting causes poor circulation in your legs, which causes spider veins, and that just yuck! However, if that’s not enough it can further lead to swollen ankles and blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Sitting down has an impact on the fresh blood and oxygen going through your brain. This does not only slow down brains functions but also negatively affect your endorphins levels. This means that sitting not only affects your physical health, but also mental wellbeing.
- This one seems kind of obvious. If you don’t move you don’t lose 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 us minimized. After an extender period this can lead to weight gain and in severe cases obesity.
- Sitting at a desk all day impairs the body’s ability to handle blood sugar, causing a reduced sensitivity to the hormone insulting, which helps carry glucose from the blood into cells where it can be used for energy.
- Emerging studies suggest that prolonged sitting can increase your risk of certain types of cancer, including uterine, colon and lung cancers. The reasons for this aren’t clear yet, however an additional impact sitting has on the last one is the compression from the posture, which results in less space for your lungs to expand when you breathe.
- “Too many of us are tied to our desks, and research shows that this could be increasing our risk of developing heart diseases” says Chris Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the BHF. Humans are built to stand up and this is when our hearts work more effectively, A 2010 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/) discovered an increase of about 125% in cardiovascular disease in the group that spent more time sitting down, as well as 46% increased risk of death from other causes. Furthermore, long sitting periods are responsible for deactivating an enzyme called lipoprotein that breakdowns fats in the blood vessels, which can lead to blockage of the blood vessel of your heart.
Loneliness and Depression
- The reason why you sit all day is most likely sitting on your computer all day, which eventually becomes the single form of communication and a person’s social circle is believed to decline as feelings of depression and loneliness increase. Furthermore, being stuck at a desk also means less time outside. Lack of sunshine causes vitamin D deficit.
You can probably understand now why sitting is called the new smoking. So how do you reduce the sitting time?
- Avoid long periods in front of a TV or a computer and stand up during commercials
- Consider swapping the TV time for more active tasks or hobbies
- Stand on the train/ bus
- Place a laptop/ desktop to work standing (see our website to compare models https://humbleworks.uk/compare-standing-desks/)
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling
- Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair.
- Walk around when on the phone
- Whenever you can use the stairs
- Don’t eat your lunch at your desk, take a walk outside of the office
- If you can park near by the back pf the parking lot
We hope that helps, so go on and join the standing revolution!!!