How to Avoid Dangers of Prolonged Sitting – Get Up

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Advances in automation and technology has changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. One of the consequences of these advances, has been that people spend more time sitting at home and work. In fact, millions of people spend nearly 8 hours a day sitting while at work. And, while sitting is definitely more comfortable, prolonged sitting is detrimental to your health.

prolonged sitting

Man sitting at work

Furthermore, studies show Americans spend an average of six to eight hours every day sitting in their free time. And, during that time, they are either resting, watching television, playing video games, listening to music, reading a book or working on computer while sitting.

Moreover, a 2018 survey of 5,900 adults, reported that nearly 26 percent, of those responding, sat for more than eight hours a day. While, another 45 percent, of those responding, didn’t get any moderate or vigorous exercise. Finally, nearly 11 percent were not only physically inactive but also sitting for more than eight hours a day.

Effects of Sitting Too Much – Metabolic Consequences

  1. Sitting too much causes your large leg muscles to become inactive. Regrettably, this inactivity has harmful metabolic consequences.
  2. Most of all, sitting too much affects your metabolism, interferes with healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Indeed, research shows that sitting too much causes obesity, high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Moreover, all of these conditions make up what is known as metabolic syndrome.

Effects of Too Much Sitting on Blood Circulation

  1. Slows down blood flow causing blood to pool in the legs and feet, leading to varicose veins, swollen ankles, or even dangerous blood clots.
  2. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is caused by dangerous blood clots in the large veins of your legs. Sometimes, pieces of these clots break away from the clot itself and get into the narrow blood vessels of the lungs.
  3. Sitting too much causes blood to pool in veins of the legs – resulting in increased pressure within the veins. As a result the veins stretch, which weakens the walls of the veins and damage the veins. Symptoms of varicose veins include changes in skin color, sores, rash or a burning sensation in the legs.
  4. Causes brain fatigue. Indeed, uninterrupted sitting increases fatigue. Which, in turn, decreases heart rate.

Effects of Sitting Too Much – Weight & Obesity

  1. Most of all, Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is an enzyme that breaks down fat so that it can be used as energy. But when LPL activity decreases, the body’s ability to burn fat suffers. As a result, the body uses carbohydrates for fuel, which in turn causes fat stores to increase. Paradoxically the body continues to gain fat even while consuming a low-calorie diet.
  2. Causes you to become obese. Indeed a study showed that being immobile makes you gain weight, while moving frequently helps prevent it.

Effects of Sitting Too Much – Muscles

  1. Most noteworthy, muscles need to be used to become pliable. Regrettably, when muscles are locked in sitting position for long periods of time they get stiff. In addition, prolonged sitting weakens muscles in the midsection, glutes, and legs.  Consequently, you are risking injury because your lower body has difficulty holding you up when you are sitting down. In addition, your lower body has difficulty keeping you stable when you are walking.
  2. Above all, prolonged sitting and slouching causes your neck and shoulders to curve and stiffen. As a result, your spine loses its flexibility as it absorbs pressure, and your pelvis rotates the wrong way.
  3. When you sit for too long, it is difficult to maintain good posture. You start to slouch and slump as you re-position yourself to be comfortable. Before too long, this slouching at the desk affects your posture when you stand or walk. Poor posture is very unattractive, painful and messes up your spine.
  4. Weight gain and poor posture while sitting too long causes your muscles in the back and neck to tense up and soon you have serious aches and pain throughout your shoulders, neck, back, hips, and legs.
  5. Most of all, when you are sitting, your gluteus muscles are at rest and doing nothing but cushioning you. As these muscles lose their tone, you may have difficulty maintaining good balance.
  6. Moreover, long periods of sitting day in and day out, causes your muscles to pull the nerves around them. As a result your nerves get pinched and you feel pain in the shoulders and lower back.
    Correct ways to sit at a desk

    Good and Bad Posture

Effects of Prolonged Sitting on Diseases

  1. Above all, older people sitting for long periods of time are at risk of getting osteoporosis. Therefore older people need to increase their physical activity, because physical activity helps regulate bone maintenance, stimulate bone formation, and accumulation of minerals.
  2. Also, research shows that sitting and inactivity increases risk of dementia.
  3. Moreover, research suggests that excessive sitting has harmful effects on sugar and fat metabolism, which in turn increases risk of heart disease.
  4. Above all, when muscles are inactive they burn less fat. Therefore, a combination of slower blood flow and less fat being burned by muscles, means fatty acids have an easier time to clog your heart. Indeed, research in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that women sitting more than 10 hours a day have a much greater risk of developing heart disease than those sitting five hours or less.
  5. Furthermore, a study shows that cells in muscles that don’t move much don’t need much sugar or glucose. As a result, these cells don’t respond well to the insulin sent by the pancreas via the blood. Consequently, the pancreas make more and more insulin and this leads to diabetes. In fact, research published in Diabetologia reported that those who sat for the longest period of time were twice more likely to have diabetes compared with those who sat the least. Furthermore, sitting for more than 8 hours a day has been associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
    Checking blood sugar levels

    Person with diabetes

Effects of Prolonged Sitting – Cancer

Most noteworthy, a Journal of the National Cancer Institute study of 4 million individuals and 68,936 cancer patients found that long periods of sitting, increases risk of colon, endometrial, and possibly lung cancer. Furthermore, the research reported that even among healthy, active people, the risk of getting cancer increases with each two hour increases in sitting time. Presumably, the increased risk may be due to excess insulin production, which encourages cell growth. Also the lack of movement decreases antioxidants in your body. Which in turn hinders the elimination of cancer-causing free radicals. In fact, excessive sitting increases lung cancer by 54 percent, uterine cancer by 66 percent, colon cancer by 30 percent.

Effects of Prolonged Sitting on Mental Health

  1. A study of 3,367 government employees found that those sitting over 6 hours a day reported symptoms of anxiety and depression when compared with those sitting less than 3 hours a day.
  2. Another study of 9,000 middle-aged women, in the Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that women sitting for more than seven hours a day were 47 percent more likely to suffer from depression than women sitting four hours or less.

Effects on Longevity

  1. Most noteworthy, a study reported that reducing the average time spent sitting to less than three hours a day increases your life expectancy by two years.
  2. An Australian study reported that people watching an average of six hours of TV a day lived an average 4.8 years fewer than those who didn’t watch any TV. Furthermore, every hour of TV that participants watched after age 25 was associated with an additional 22 minute reduction in their life expectancy.
  3. Meanwhile, thirteen studies on sitting time and activity levels found that those who daily sat eight hours or more, without any physical activity, had a risk of dying which was the same as that from obesity or smoking.
  4. Finally, another study reported sitting time contributed little to the mortality of very active people.

Effects on Mortality

  1. Most noteworthy, a survey of 125,000 adults by the American Cancer Society found that adults who sat six or more hours a day were 19 percent more likely to die over the next 21 years when compared to adults who spent less time on the couch or at a desk after the workday is over. Indeed, the risks of dying were significantly higher for 14 of 22 specific causes of death. And, these 14 causes were: Alzheimer’s, suicide, kidney disease, COPD (such as emphysema), nervous disorders, Parkinson’s disease, peptic ulcer and other digestive disease, stroke, liver disease, pneumonitis, diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, and musculoskeletal disorders. Regrettably, over the next 21 years, 48,000 people who responded to the survey died.
  2. Meanwhile, another study followed 8,000 American adults, over the age of 45, from 2009 to 2017. Above all, the study monitored physical activities of these adults between 2009 and 2013 and their deaths through 2017. Most noteworthy, the study found that adults, who replaced 30 minutes of sitting each day with low-intensity physical activity, had their risk of early death decrease by 17 percent. Also, adults, who replaced 30 minutes of sitting each day with moderate-to-vigorous exercise, saw their risk of early death decrease by 35 percent. Especially relevant, the higher risk of death holds even when people say they are trying to exercise. Regrettably, the recommended 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily does not eliminate risk from sitting during the remaining part of the day.
  3. Regrettably, over the last 25 years, one of the leading causes of premature death in the United States has been the lack of physical activity. Furthermore, ten percent of early deaths in the United States were from being inactive.

Other Effects

  1. Above all, being in front of the computer all day limits sun exposure. Consequently, since your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D from the sun, you have eat foods that contain vitamin D.
  2. Finally, lack of activity reduces your endurance levels and cardio health within two weeks of inactivity. And studies show that the amount of oxygen people take in falls rapidly after not training for a month.

Remedies

prolonged sitting

Man walking to get relief from sitting

Above all, remedies to offset the effects of prolonged sitting include the following.

  1. Firstly, take a break every 30 minutes and walk around so that you can stretch your legs and clear your head.
  2. Or, if a break is impossible, just stand up and move around for a minute or two.
  3. Next, stand while you are talking on the phone or watching television at home
  4. Also, verify that you will be comfortable working at a desk where you have to stand
  5. Incidentally, check if you can use a desk exercise machine for your legs.
    prolonged sitting

    Exercising your feet while sitting at a desk

  6. Next, data from a million people showed 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity negated effects of prolonged sitting
  7. Meanwhile, walk across the hall to talk to a coworker instead of sending an email
  8. And while an elevator may happen to be convenient, take the stairs instead
  9. Incidentally, park your car as far away from the entrance as you are comfortable
  10. In the same way, walk to your desk using a longer route from wherever you happen to be

Stack Sitting

Stack sitting is a technique to prevent your back from hurting. Most of all, stack sitting is used in the absence of a backrest. Above all, as you sit, stack the bones of your spine, from top to bottom in a single column to support your head without using any muscles. Moreover, the video shows how to do stack sitting.

Stretch Sitting

Similarly, stretch sitting is also a technique to prevent your back from hurting. First and foremost, sit back in a chair and curve your body forward from your waist, to elongate your back. Next, press your elongated spine against the back of the chair. Meanwhile, the video shows how to do stretch sitting.

Recommended Guidelines for Physical Activity

Meanwhile, the United States Department of Health and Human Services publishes physical activity guidelines and recommendations for Americans. And these guidelines recommend that, each week, Americans do either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activities or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activities.

In addition, the National Institutes of Health’s Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute also publishes guidelines on physical activities. And, in fact, these guidelines provide examples of physical activities that you can do around the house. Finally, these guidelines also describe physical activities that are moderately intense.

About the Author Lisa Anderson

I am Lisa the content editor for fitnessreporting.com