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14 Proven Side Effects of Sitting All Day
February 2nd, 2011
It should come as no surprise that sitting around and not moving all day isn't really good for your body, but many may not be aware of just how many problems can be caused by such a sedentary lifestyle. Whether you choose to sit all day or are required to by the logistics of your job, you may want to take a new approach to your workday after learning just what health effects sitting can have on the body. It could impact not only your health, but the lives of your loved ones and expenditures towards healthcare.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis. Most are familiar with this condition through warnings urging people not to sit without getting up on long flights. The same goes for sitting for hours on end anywhere– at work or at home– without moving. If you don't get up and walk around occasionally, you could be putting yourself at risk of potentially deadly blood clots in your legs.
- Obesity. Surprise, surprise, sitting all day rather than standing or moving around can play a contributing role in obesity. While not burning enough calories is part of the problem, studies have also shown that being overly sedentary can slow your metabolism and change how your body functions, further contributing to weight gain.
- Increased Risk of Heart Disease. You think a workout after work is enough to make up for sitting still all day? Think again. New studies have shown that exercise once a day, even for an hour, isn't enough to make up for sitting all day at work. Those who work out and sit all day are just as likely to develop heart disease as those who don't work out and sit all day, something that should make any health conscious worker reevaluate their daily schedule.
- Risk of Diabetes. Along with an increased risk of heart disease, sitting for prolonged periods of time can increase your chances of developing diabetes by as much as 7 percent. Why? Sitting all day actually causes your body to slow down considerably and can result in increased blood sugar (since your body doesn't need the sugar for energy it simply stays in your system), insulin resistance and a much less healthy you.
- Raised Cholesterol. Those standing desks and treadmills desks won't sound so bad after you learn what other side effects sitting all day can have. Not only will it raise your blood sugar, but your cholesterol as well. Sitting causes enzyme activity in the body to drop by as much as 90%, preventing those helpful enzymes from grabbing that fat and using it for energy. In fact, after a few hours of sitting, healthy cholesterol plummets by 20%.
- Herniated Disk. Our bodies aren't really designed to sit all day long. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your hips and spine, and can lead to some injuries in them over an extended period of time. One such injury may be a herniated disk. Continued pressure on your spine may cause a disk to come out of place, creating a painful condition that can require medication, physical therapy or even surgery.
- Poor Posture. Do you always sit correctly when you're sitting down at work or at home? More than likely you're not, which can put undue pressure on certain parts of your body and lead to poor posture even when you're not sitting at a desk. Weakened muscles and tight joints caused by prolonged sitting take their toll over time, and can leave you feeling tired, cause extreme lower back and neck pain and harm your body as a whole.
- Knee Pain. When you sit, your knees are generally at a ninety degree angle. At first, this doesn't seem so bad, but after sitting all day, for weeks on end, this can take its toll on your knees. Sitting in this position puts pressure on the kneecap and can lead to pain and swelling and may result in having to wear a knee brace while at work.
- Muscle Weakness. It makes sense that moving less results in loss of muscle mass and muscle weakness. One of the hardest hit muscles is the gluteus maximums, or the buttocks. It is one of the largest muscles in the body and plays a big role in just about any movement you could want to do, so it's essential that it stays strong. Weak gluteus muscles can result in lower back pain and hip bursitis as well.
- Increased Risk of Depression. Sitting at your desk all day may make you depressed through the sheer tedium of it all, but there's a scientific reason for it as well. Reduced movement means less blood flow. Less blood flow means fewer feel-good hormones are moving through your body, helping you keep depression at bay. The effects can be even worse for those who already struggle with or are more prone to depression.
- Slowed Metabolism. When you sit for an extended period of time, your body starts to slow and shut down on a metabolic level. Since you're not moving around, your circulation slows and you're burning fewer calories and fewer fat burning enzymes are moving through your body. All of this can lead to an overall slowed metabolism that can affect your energy levels and cause you to gain weight.
- Neck Problems. Many people who work at a computer extend their necks to see or bend them slightly when working. While over the short term this may not be a huge problem, but over long periods of time it can start to harm the muscles and joints in the neck and lead to pain even when you're not at work.
- Back Aches and Pain. One of the hardest hit parts of the body when you're sitting all day is the lower back. It is under a large amount of pressure and can begin to ache while at work and for hours afterward. While stretching, working out the muscles and moving around can all help, many sitting all day just don't realize how much they're hurting their backs and could face long term problems trying to get them back into shape.
- Shorter Life Span. Those who sit more than six hours a day are at an increased risk of early death from all causes, higher by an average 35% for women and 18% for men, for those who exercise. Those who don't exercise and sit all day are at a 94% higher risk of premature death for women, and a 48% higher risk for men. This is no joke for those who spend their days at a desk. Get up, get exercising and start reducing the effects of being sedentary before it's too late.