Be it watching the TV, from one series to another, operating the computer, reading, writing or meditating, sitting comes to play. Sometimes, you sit for more than ten hours in a day all in the name of working. This has adverse effects on the health. Humans are built to stand upright. The heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively this way. Let’s see how sitting shortens life.
• Your brain function slows when your body is sedentary for too long. Your brain will get less fresh blood and oxygen, which are needed to trigger the release of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals. People who sit for long are also prone to anxiety and depression.
• Strained Neck and Shoulders: It is common to hold your neck and head forward while working at a computer or cradling a phone to your ear. This can lead to strains to your cervical vertebrae along with permanent imbalances, which can lead to neck strain, sore shoulders and back.
• Back Problems: Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing, and the toll on your back health is even worse if you are hunched in front of a computer. It is estimated that 40 percent of people with back pain have spent long hours at their computer each day.
The disks in your back are meant to expand and contract as you move, which allows them to absorb blood and nutrients. When you sit, the disks are compressed and can lose flexibility over time. Sitting excessively can also increase your risk of herniated disks.
• Standing requires you to tense your abdominal muscles, which go unused when you sit, ultimately leading to weak abdominals. It also leads to the legs and bum muscles wasting away.
• Hip Problems: Your hips also suffer from prolonged sitting, becoming tight and limited in range of motion because they are rarely extended. In the elderly, decreased hip mobility is a leading cause of falls.
Sitting also does nothing for your glutes, which may become weakened, affecting your stability and the power of your stride when walking and jumping.
• Varicose Veins: Sitting leads to poor circulation in your legs, which can cause swelling in your ankles, varicose veins, and blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
• Weak Bones: Walking, running, and engaging in other weight-bearing activities lead to stronger, denser bones. Lack of activity may cause weak bones and even osteoporosis.
Digestion: Sitting down after you’ve eaten causes your abdominal contents to compress, slowing down digestion. Sluggish digestion, in turn, can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, as well as dysbiosis in your gastrointestinal tract, a condition caused by microbial imbalances in your body.
Heart: When you sit, blood flows slower and muscles burn less fat, which makes it easier for fatty acids to clog your heart. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for instance, showed that women who sit for 10 or more hours a day may have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less.
• Pancreas: Your body’s ability to respond to insulin is affected by just one day of excess sitting, which leads your pancreas to produce increased amounts of insulin, and this may lead to diabetes.
In short, at the molecular level, your body was designed to be active and on the move all day long. When you stop moving for extended periods of time, it’s like telling your body it’s time to shut down and prepare for death.
Moving your muscles helps your body digest the fats and sugars you consume. If you spend a lot of time sitting, digestion is not as efficient, so you retain those fats and sugars as fat in your body.
We all know that smokers are liable to die young (Well, it is written on cigarettes pack), but from all the points above, we can gather that sitting is the new smoking. The more sedentary we are, the more our body is tricked into shutting down and preparing for death. Whatever you do, incorporate standing into your everyday life.
Press your clothes while watching the TV, take the stairs, walk across the hall to speak to a colleague instead of calling, walk from the junction to your house instead of using a bike, walk up the escalator… Just stand!