Sedentary behavior is among the top three threats that endanger our health and well being these days. It can be due to the long hours spend at the desk at work, the time we spend driving the car, or just sitting around at home and watching TV, but regardless of the cause, it is definitely crippling our bodies.
According to LifeSpan Fitness:
“Why is it that we are more sedentary now than we were just 50 years ago? The main contributing factor to our increased sedentary lifestyles is technology. Technology has brought about more inactive modes of transit, caused an increase in sedentary desk jobs and has developed more activities that can be done while sitting (i.e. watching TV, surfing the web, playing video games).
Overall, sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950 and physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of our workforce, which is 50% less than in 1950. Additionally, our average work week is longer. Americans now work 47 hours a week–164 more hours a year than 20 years ago.”
Sedentary behavior has been linked to severe health risks such as cardiovascular risks, type 2 diabetes, and even premature death. Researchers have even found that the negative consequences of sitting most of the day cannot be reversed by a daily exercise routine.
“When you have an inactive lifestyle,
- You burn fewer calories. This makes you more likely to gain weight.
- You may lose muscle strength and endurance because you are not using your muscles as much
- Your bones may get weaker and lose some mineral content
- Your metabolism may be affected, and your body may have more trouble breaking down fats and sugars
- Your immune system may not work as well
- You may have poorer blood circulation
- Your body may have more inflammation
- You may develop a hormonal imbalance”
Here are 10 reasons to avoid sitting too much during the day:
1. Premature Death
Sitting for long periods of time has been shown to elevate the risk of premature death.
2. Shoulder and Neck Strains
Sitting at the desk or in front of the computer for too long can lead to an over usage of muscles, neck pain, tension in the shoulders, and back, and poor body posture.
3. Spinal Inflexibility
Physical activity expands the soft discs between the vertebrae, and they contract and act as = shock absorbers, helping the supply of essential nutrients, fresh blood, and oxygen. Long periods spent sitting can cause an imbalance of these disks, and they can become starved of the needed nutrients, limiting the flexibility of the back and causing back stiffening.
4. Heart Disease
While sitting, our muscles burn less fat, which slows the blood flow, and fatty acids can accumulate and clog the heart.
Blood sugar levels rise if we sit for a long time, as we burn fewer calories, and it changes the way our body reacts to insulin.
6. Over-Productive Pancreas
Insulin is the common denominator when talking about the health risks of sedentary behavior. It helps carry glucose to our cells for energy, and the body does not respond to it the same in an inactive body, leading to the need for the pancreas to work overtime.
7. Brain Performance
Sitting slows down every process in the body, including the brain functionality. While moving, we boost the flow of fresh blood and oxygen, which improves the function of the brain, and leads to enhanced mood and productivity.
8. Muscle Degeneration
While sitting, the muscles of the core tend to loosen, the hip flexors shorten, and the legs become limp and weak. This reduces the balance, stability of the body, and raises the risk of injuries and bone fractures.
People who spend most of their time sitting have a higher risk of weight gain and obesity, as the circulation of lipase shuts down, the body burns fewer calories, and all this causes a larger waistline.
10. Disk Damage
People who sit for elongated periods of time are at an increased risk for suffering from herniated lumbar disks, as the spine is under a heavy pressure when sitting as the body weight is not evenly distributed.
To prevent these health risks of uninterrupted sitting, you should:
- Use a standing desk at work, if possible
- Practice yoga
- Exercise daily and take a stroll whenever possible
- Stand up and stretch every half hour and touch your toes
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Housework, gardening, and yard work are all physical work.
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO’s Director-General, maintains:
“The habit of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a nutritious diet ideally begins in childhood and we hope that parents and schools everywhere will use this day to spread this message. We should all be ready to move for health and to adopt healthy and active lifestyles.”