While smoking has managed the ill-repute of being dangerous, a desk job is still seen as a harmless sacrifice. In this, the term "sitting is the new smoking" manages to articulate the dangers of excessive sitting for long hours a day.
Sitting might seem like an innocent enough activity. Just like one cigarette a day. However, sitting might prove to be as serious as a cigarette when done for an extended amount of time.
Descriptively, a study revealed that participants who sat less than 30 minutes at a time had a 55% lower risk than those who sat for 30 minutes or more at a time.
The list of ailments linked to prolonged sitting time is not something to be taken lightly. Let's take a look at the 5 health risks that become associated with a sedentary lifestyle:
5 Reasons Why Sitting Is The New Smoking
1. Cardiovascular Disease And High Blood Pressure
The more time you spend sitting, the greater will be your risk of cardiovascular disease. Lack of exercise is a known high-risk factor for heart diseases. It is in part because a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Getting regular physical activity can help decrease heart disease risk by managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar levels. All in all, a proper amount of physical activity can strengthen your heart.
2. Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Studies show that those who sit for a long time double their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, even if they regularly exercise.
Sitting down for a long period of time can result in negative changes in the body's metabolism, including insulin resistance which ultimately points to Type 2 diabetes.
3. Poor Mental Health
The routine of an extended amount of time sitting not only impact physical but mental health as well.
Some of the psychological effects behind sitting for longer periods can be associated with how people tend to spend their time in their chairs. With staring at an electronic screen continuously, there arises a feeling of emotional disconnection.
Multitasking between work emails, personal texts, social media, and the internet- makes people feel constricted in their daily lives.
While increased physical activity is no cure for mental problems, but it does provide a respite to just breathe and find peace at the moment.
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A sedentary lifestyle, including sitting and lying down, involves very little energy expenditure. It severely limits the calories that you burn.
The risk of being obese increases dramatically when leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Too much sitting time is known to decrease lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity, reducing the body's ability to burn down accumulated fat. It increases our body's ability to store fat, even with the consumption of a healthy diet.
5. Eye Strain
Studies show that an average American spends more than 11 hours a day staring at a screen. Thus, sitting for an extended period of time is as damaging to our eyes as the best of our body.
The continuous exposure to harsh screens without any respite is the leading cause of eye strain among employees worldwide. The amount of time spent staring at a computer screen can negatively affect your eyes and worsen any prior dry eye symptoms.
6. Weak Gluteals (bum muscles)
When you sit for long hours, gluteal muscles weaken. If the muscles are weak, improper use of the rest of the body's muscles and functions will throw off your posture. As you know, your glutes are essential for propulsion for walking, running and even singled-legged movement.
Weak gluteals include :
- Mid low- back
7. Fragile Hips and Back
Back problem arises with long hours of sitting that causes cause poor spine health such as compression in the discs. Continuous sitting for hours puts stress on the muscles and then leaves the spine stiff and sore. Your hip flexor shortens when you sit for long hours that further causes problems with hip joints.
Here are some of the Tip to protect your spin and avoid sitting for hours
Set a time and take breaks every 30 minutes
- Encourage walking meeting
- Take a short walk during lunch break
8. Stiff Neck and Shoulders
Your desk is one of the most critical components of your workspace. The standard sitting desk is where the workspace's height should allow you to type comfortably on a keyboard. It shouldn't be too high or too low; else, your neck muscles will fatigue, and muscle spasms will develop.
9. Varicose Veins
Sitting for long hours can lead to varicose veins. These veins are usually swollen and enlarged. They develop when blood flows in the wrong direction. Why does it happen?
When we sit for long hours without breaks, blood pools in our legs. Hence, it is vital to do leg movements and take breaks every 30 minutes.
10. Weak skeleton System
Exercises like walking and standing stress your bones, which signals specialized cells to replace old bone tissues. If you sit continuously for long hours and don't use your muscles, your bones will eventually lose strength. It will also negatively impact the skeleton system that includes pain, bone spurs, and other symptoms.
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10 Easy Ways To Counter The Health Risks Of A Sedentary Job
Take the stairs. Try to avoid the elevator like the plague. Unless there is an emergency, the stairs are your best friends.
Try to walk or bike to work. If you live too far off, then get down before you reach your workplace and walk the rest of the way.
Attend phone calls while walking. Phone calls take up so much time of our workday that it seems feasible to squeeze in some physical activity while at it.
Do some desk exercises. We have an excellent and extensive list of office desk exercises that you can check out.
Opt for a standing desk. There is a reason why standing desks have been seeing so much love lately. Not only does it enable in lessening the amount of sitting time, but it has also been shown to improve focus and productivity.
Opt for a treadmill desk. It is the magnified version of the before mentioned standing desks. Just like a treadmill, you walk while you work. It might be too drastic for beginners, but this seems like a good investment if you are in a fit person.
Walking meetings. This incredible fitness hack, used by Steve Jobs himself, is a great way to combat the long hours of sitting in cramped rooms. Walking meetings presents the health benefits of ensuring that you get the beenfit of exercise while getting work done. Also, the meetings themselves are kept precise and to the point.
Walk to lunch. While walking to your favorite lunchtime bistro, try walking to the location, and additionally, opt for healthy lunch choices.
Your mental health is as essential as remaining physically active. While walking, listens to your favorite music or walk past a beautiful street nearby. Smile at a street dog or click a picture of your favorite tree. Enjoy the things that you do.
Stretch frequently. To avoid being physically inactive during the workday, walk over to your colleague's desk, or volunteer to deliver something on the opposite side of the room. Also, regularly stand up and stretch your leg, arms, and neck. Stretching out your limbs will be useful for your body even for such a short amount of time.
Do you agree that the term "sitting is the new smoking" is well placed? Or is it overrated? Do tell us in the comments below.