Sitting for extended periods of time has been linked to chronic health problems, such as heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you live a sedentary lifestyle or have a job that requires a lot of sitting (like truck driving, office jobs, etc.) then you are at increased risks for these health problems.
Fortunately, getting daily activity that combats these negative effects are easier than you might think. The rest of this article outlines the risks of sitting too much and what you can do about it.
Why Is Sitting So Bad for Your Health?
There have been numerous medical studies that are unanimous when it comes to the negative effects extended sitting has on our health:
- Weakened legs and glutes – muscles atrophy when they aren’t exercised enough, and this is especially true of your leg muscles. These muscles are vital for stability and balance, and if they are weakened, you have an increased risk of sprains and falls
- Weight gain – physical activity burns those calories you consume on a daily basis. Prolonged periods of sitting inhibit calorie burning, which means you’re much more likely to gain weight from those excess calories that aren’t burned off
- Weakened hips and back – similar to your leg and gluteal muscles, your hips and back are subject to atrophy if you sit for too long. This can lead to chronic hip and back pain
- Heart disease – sitting for too long stresses your capillaries, as physical activity is vital for your heart health so your blood better circulates through your body. Some experts believe that the risk of heart disease and stroke in sedentary patients is as high as 147% more than those who live a more active lifestyle
- Blood clots/DVT – inadequate circulation through your body increases the risk of blood clots and a potentially life-threatening condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Anxiety and depression – studies have linked higher risk of mental illnesses to those who live a sedentary lifestyle. With those who already have anxiety and depression, physical exercise proves a beneficial part of treatment
How Much Sitting is Too Much?
According to JustStand.org, risk of the aforementioned health effects falls into four categories:
- Low risk – sitting less than 4 hours a day
- Intermediate risk – sitting between 4 – 8 hours a day
- High risk – sitting between 8 – 11 hours a day
- Very high risk – sitting more than 11 hours a day
What If My Career Requires Me To Sit for Long Stretches of Time?
Some helpful tips to break the monotony of long periods of sitting are as follows:
- walk around when on the phone or on conference calls
- stand when checking emails
- if you work in an office, get a standing desk for work, so you have to stand when using the computer instead of sitting
- park further away, so you have to walk a longer distance
- take the stairs instead of the elevator