The damaging effects of sitting down on the job

GET MOVING: The human body was not designed for long periods of sitting.
GET MOVING: The human body was not designed for long periods of sitting.

CHANCES are you'll be sitting down when you start reading this article but hopefully by the time you get to the end you'll want to stand up.

Human beings are meant to be on the move.

We are supposed to be walking entities that explore the world on our feet.

Our physical structures weren't built to sit around for long periods of time.

Back in the cavemen days, if we had sat around for as long as we do these days - we would have starved or been eaten alive.

We would all have died and become extinct.

Sadly, in this day and age, many of us sit around - a lot.

Most of us sit during our commute to work, and then when we get to work we sit around a bit more.

We go grab lunch and sit down to eat it.

Then we go back to our desk and sit again for the rest of the afternoon.

And when we need to get up to talk to someone - well, we send an email instead.

Isn't that what it was invented for? To save us the effort of having to get up.

Spare a thought for truck drivers who have no option other than to spend copious hours, sitting in the same position, driving from A to B then B to C then back to A again.

No matter what our job is, most of us go home so tired at the end of the day that we plonk in front of the TV for dinner and then don't really move again until we go to bed. If we didn't know better, you would think we were born to sit.

The trouble with sitting around is that it is doing us no favours.

In reality it is still killing us like it would have in the old days, only it's slower than starving to death.

Sitting not only starves the body of movement it also places it in a really bad position for it to function efficiently.

Sitting at 90 degrees or worse just closes our body into really restricted angles.

This impedes proper blood flow, circulation and muscle use.

When we sit in the same position for a long time, the muscles of our torso, neck and shoulders are affected.

Due to the nature of sitting, these muscles are required to hold the body in a somewhat fixed position.

Blood vessels are squeezed causing reduced blood flow to these places.

This results in muscle fatigue, which contributes to overall exhaustion and stiffness.

And let's not forget about the considerable amount of stress on the spine, especially around the neck and lower back regions.

Over time, sitting can result in compression of the spinal discs.

Back muscles then become tight from the pressure. No wonder we feel seized up, tired and achy all the time.

Reduced blood flow from long-term sitting lends itself to a whole host of other issues.

Your legs and feet swell when there is reduced blood flow to your lower extremities.

Blood pooling in your lower legs also results in numbness and varicose veins.

There is an increased risk of blood clots in the deeper veins of your legs which can lead to deep vein thrombosis.

Did you know that your life could be at risk if the clot travels to your lungs?

Sitting too long also contributes to metabolic syndrome, a condition that often leads to diabetes.

There is little muscle action when you sit down.

Movement uses your muscles.

Your muscles need fuel to work.

The more you move and use your muscles the more you stimulate your metabolism.

When you eat food but don't burn it off, the body stores the excess as fat.

Sitting all day slows your metabolism, which adds to excess weight issues and leads to obesity, which in turn, increases your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

The ugliness of long-term sitting doesn't just stop there.

Depression is another risk factor of long-term sitting.

Serotonin - your feelgood hormone - is released and circulated through the body with movement and exercise.

Sitting for long periods at a time reduces the circulation of blood flow and subsequent serotonin release and circulation.

This probably explains the high rate of depression among truck drivers.

A study done back in 2010 showed that adults who sat for 11 hours a day had a 40% increased risk of dying, and sitting for at least six hours a day can make someone 18% more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity related conditions than those sitting less than three hours a day.

The scary thing about all this is that even if you exercise, the effects of sitting on your butt for long periods of time can still be harmful.

Just because you are doing 30 minutes of physical activity daily, doesn't mean that you go unscathed. What about the other 23.5 hours in the day? 

Topics:  healthy living, michelle peden



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