Sitting may seem comfortable. But sitting for too long is detrimental to your overall physical as well as mental health. The energy you consume while sitting is way lesser than what it takes when you stand or move around.
Some studies show that people who sit most hours a day without any physical activity pose a risk, same as those people who smoke or have obesity problems. Prolonged sitting is associated with numerous health and psychological issues.
With the rapid rise in technology and automation, many things have been simplified. One of the greatest shortcomings of technology is that it restricts our physical activities.
The sedentary lifestyles that most of us live with restrict our bodily activities greatly. However, knowing the side effects of sitting too long and making specific lifestyle changes help you counter the effects of prolonged sitting.
What are the side effects of sitting for too long?
Heart gets affected
With this sedentary lifestyle, you often tend to experience prolonged sitting in the workplace on a day-to-day basis. Prolonged sitting can directly be linked to the risk of contracting heart diseases.
Studies show that people who work by physical means are less prone to heart diseases than those who work by sitting all day.
Affects legs and gluteals
The effects of prolonged sitting on muscles should not be ignored. Leg and gluteal muscles are large muscles that are crucial for walking and stabilising.
Sitting for too long affects these muscles by weakening them and hindering their functioning. More damage to these muscles makes you more susceptible to injuries during exercises.
If you do not move, you will not consume much energy. It also hinders the process of digestion. In that case, your body will not digest the fats and sugar; as a result, it retains them in it.
This makes you obese, and eventually, you will gain weight. You would have probably known the risks of excessive weight gain. It also leads to metabolic syndrome.
All these effects can be lowered by indulging in physical activity such as standing up and having a brief walk every 45 minutes.
Risk of Diabetes
As per the studies, people who sit for too long develop increased insulin resistance. This is a precursor to the risk of contracting Diabetes, as insulin resistance will raise your blood sugar level more than the normal limits. And this paves the way for the onset of Diabetes.
The risk of attracting nerve damage from sitting too much is greater. If you sit for an extended time, the chances of attracting varicose veins may become high.
A prolonged sitting causes the blood to rush and pool in your legs. This causes your veins to twist and swell. This condition is called varicose veins. It is not a life-threatening condition but will cause severe discomfort.
Deep vein thrombosis
The possibility of getting nerve damage from sitting too much is prominent in people with sedentary lifestyles. If you sit for too long, you may experience a blood clot in the veins of your leg.
This condition is called Deep vein thrombosis. If the blood clot bursts open, it will cut off the flow of blood to your body. Thus, it affects your organs, including the lungs. This is a medical emergency and can even lead to death.
Recent studies show that the risk of certain types of cancer can be linked to prolonged sitting. If you sit for too long hours, the chances of developing colon, endometrial or lung cancer are high. Older women have more chances of contracting breast cancer from prolonged sitting.
There are no clear pieces of evidence to answer how much sitting is too much. However, it is clear that long sittings are attributed to the risks of cancer.
How to reduce the side effects of sitting for too long?
If your lifestyle demands you sit for too long, you cannot neglect it. However, it doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do to counter its effects. You can adopt some changes in your daily routine.
If your work demands you to sit for a prolonged period, instead of taking a car or bike, you can opt for a cycle or walk to the nearest public transport point and travel. But it may not be possible for everyone.
In that case, you can adopt regular workouts in your daily life. If you have to sit for 8 hours a day, you need to perform 60 to 90 minutes of exercise.
The workout can include weight training, aerobics, strength and endurance training, etc. Going for a jog or walk is beneficial in many ways. It is one of the best ways to counter cardiac risks.
To sum up
In our current times, with an increase in technology, the necessity of physical activities is diminishing. But, at the end of the day, we need a healthy body to operate.
The maximum sitting time per day for people working across various industries varies tremendously. In some sectors, people sit even for 10 to 12 hours straight. This kind of behaviour is highly detrimental to your health.
If you’re wondering how to reduce the effect of sitting all day, the answer is simple—get involved in physical activities. With regular exercise and being active physically wherever possible, you can lead a long and healthy life.