The hidden dangers of prolonged sitting

Many of us spend long periods of time parked on the sofa or devoted to our workplaces in today's fast-paced environment. Sitting for long periods of time has become the new standard, whether it is due to professional responsibilities, binge-watching TV series or just a sedentary lifestyle. But were you aware that your health may be seriously endangered by this apparently innocent habit? In this blog article, we'll uncover the drawbacks of extended sitting and how to lessen their harmful effects.

Common diseases that are caused by prolonged sitting for a long period of time.

Firstly, Muscle Weakness and Posture Problems.

Muscle weakness is one of the first symptoms of extended sitting that become most apparent. Your leg, back and core muscles become dormant and weak when you sit for long periods of time. This can result in bad posture, which might then result in rounded shoulders, spinal misalignment and back and neck pain. According to a study of the National Library of Medicine, the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, especially lower back pain might be raised by prolonged sitting behaviour.[1]

Secondly, Mental Disease.

A sedentary lifestyle can have profound implications for mental health, potentially contributing to the development of conditions like depression and anxiety. This is due to the role of serotonin, a crucial hormone in the brain that plays a pivotal role in regulating mood. When you engage in physical activity, your body releases serotonin, which has a mood-enhancing effect. Conversely, a lack of exercise can lead to diminished serotonin production, resulting in a reduced capacity for experiencing positive emotions and a decline in motivation.[2]

Finally, Obesity

Insufficient physical activity due to a sedentary lifestyle results in decreased calorie expenditure. To mitigate the risk of heart disease, health experts recommend that both adults and teenagers should aim for a minimum of 2.5 hours of weekly physical exercise. However, Health Partners highlights a concerning trend: only about one in five adults actually meet this recommended exercise threshold. This shortfall in physical activity not only heightens the risk of unexpected weight gain but also raises the change of obesity as a potential consequence.[1]

Making even the tiniest adjustments to your routine, both at home and at work, is never too late. You may quickly go in the correct direction by adjusting how and how much you move, as well as by performing routine duties with a bit more vigour.

Try adding a bit more activity to your everyday routine to beat the sedentary lifestyle!

Evelyn O'Neill, manager of outpatient fitness programs at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, a Harvard affiliate, observes the effects of excessive daily sitting. She claims that in terms of health concerns, sitting has replaced smoking. "A host of health issues may be caused more by inactivity than anything else," [3]

One of the simple ways to reduce the harm of a sedentary lifestyle would be incorporating brief bouts of exercise into your daily routine.

There are several approaches to doing this. You are still moving your arms and legs, activating your muscles, and exercising your joints even if you aren't perspiring or feeling like you're working hard.

What are some things you can do then? Here are some tips to get you moving more frequently each day: 

  • Five minutes of walking every two hours.
  • During TV advertisements, stand up and move around or march while stationary.
  • Perform several sets of heel lifts by standing on your toes. Try it as you cook breakfast or clean your teeth.
  • When on the phone, always stand or move around.
  • Push-ups should be performed against the kitchen counter. "Your body weight is always a good way to strengthen muscles," claims O'Neill. [3]
  • Biceps curls should be performed 10 to 20 times using soup cans as weights.

Exercises where you stand up from a chair without moving your arms and then sit back down to finish one rep can be performed up to ten times.

"Also, look for opportunities to do extra movement during regular errands and chores," advises O'Neill. Save some of the filthy dishes for hand cleaning so you may exercise your hands and fingers. Moreover, instead of utilising the drive-through car wash, wash your car; park farther away at the grocery store; clean and mop more frequently; and perform easy yard labour like weeding, planting pots, and raking. [3]

There is nothing wrong with sitting. The only time sitting is bad for us is when we do it excessively. For a happier and healthier lifestyle, consider moving more during the day, cutback on excessive sitting and aim for a healthier balance.