The lockdown confined people to their homes, and even now when it has eased, many people work from home. The result is prolonged sitting! In this piece from the Health Guidedetails fresh findings about the dangers we face sitting for long hours. People on sedentary jobs fall into this category!
Shorter Life: A study by the Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) Nutrition Cohort followed 127,554 healthy men and women from 1993 to 2014. This study showed that sitting more than six hours a day during leisure time, as opposed to less than three hours per day, resulted in a higher risk of death. Those who spent more time sitting were more likely to die from cardiac disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide.
Heart Problems: Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, it is wise to eliminate as many risk factors for heart disease as possible. Death from cardiac-related disease includes coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, and congenital heart disease. Studies have shown that excessive sitting time increases the risk of heart disease by 14.7%.
Cognitive Decline: Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have shown that sitting for extended periods of time affects your brain as well as other parts of your body. This study showed that a sedentary lifestyle actually leads to thinning of the medial temporal lobe of the brain.
Diabetes: Along with heart disease, people who spend the majority of their day sitting can be twice as likely to develop diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has started a “National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day.” This initiative increases awareness that breaking up long periods of sitting with periods of activity is a potent way to prevent developing type 2 diabetes. Look for simple ways to interrupt sitting time and get out of your chair every 30 minutes. Instead of sitting while talking on the phone, pace around your office. Take advantage of the freedom technology gives you and get out for a brisk walk around the block while chatting on your cell phone.
Blood Clots: Sitting for long periods of time increases your chances of developing blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When you are not moving enough, blood flow in your legs can become sluggish. When this happens, clots can form, break off, and travel to other parts of the body. Clots that travel to the lungs may cause a blockage called pulmonary embolism that can cause death.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is another negative consequence of too much sitting. Find ways to increase the amount of time you spend walking. Instead of fast forwarding through commercials, let them run while you use the time for quick household chores. Flip the laundry, dust a bookshelf, water your plants, or give the kitchen a quick sweep. At work, take the stairs rather than the elevator to get from one floor to another. Park farther from the door at the grocery store or mall and add a few more steps to your day.
Back Pain: You may not realize it, but you may be sitting wrong as well as sitting too much. Decrease lower back pain by making sure to sit with correct posture. Use a chair that supports your lower back. Sit up straight, rather than leaning forward. The strain of leaning forward puts extra stress on your spine. Make sure you don’t sit in one position for too long and remember to get up to stretch your legs every 30 minutes or so.
Cancer: A study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sit more than six hours each day are 10% more likely to develop cancer than women who sit less than three hours each day. They are also more likely to develop multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. While this study did not indicate an increased likelihood of cancer in men, sitting for extended periods of uninterrupted time each day does affect both sexes. One way to decrease sitting time and take care of your body is to skip the drive-through after work each night and cook your own healthy meals.
Varicose Veins: Enlarged, swollen veins visible under the skin can be another painful effect of sitting too long. Either sitting or standing too long can cause blood to pool in the legs. Excess blood pooling in the veins increases pressure on the veins, which can then stretch. As the veins stretch, their walls can become weakened, and the valves can become damaged. You can prevent painful and unsightly varicose veins by putting your feet up while sitting whenever possible. Likewise, remember to change position throughout the day when sitting. Don’t cross your legs while seated, as this increases the pressure on your veins.
Mental Health Issues: Too much sitting and not enough movement can cause depression, anxiety, and malaise. Get out of your chair and get moving to get oxygen flowing to your muscles and your brain. Go for a brisk walk to release powerful feel-good endorphins. Find a new hobby that keeps you active and stimulates your mind and body.