Is sitting the new smoking?
How sitting too long is affecting your health.
The average adult person spends about 9-12 hours sitting during the day, not including the eight hours of sleep we should be getting a night. Nine hours?!?! Seems a little crazy, but after you add up your time spent on your commute to work, time at your desk, commuting back home and then sitting down to binge-watch your favorite Netflix shows, the hours just add up. The problem is that our bodies weren’t designed to be so “lazy.”
The impacts of what is now coined as the “sitting disease,” are becoming one of the most unanticipated health threats to our modern time. With advances in technology (cars, computers, heavy lifting machines) people have become increasingly sedentary. There are 3.2 million deaths a year related to physical inactivity, making it the 4th leading risk factor for mortality. Research is now showing links between a sedentary lifestyle and metabolic diseases like diabetes, several types of cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease. It is also a common misconception that exercise can compensate for too much sitting; research shows even if you engage in the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week, you are still subject to the negative impact of too much sitting.
The human body has 360 joints and over 700 muscles that function together to keep the body MOVING. Here is how sitting down all day impacts various muscles and bodily systems.
Lower Back – Sitting places the muscles responsible for hip flexion in a shortened position. These muscles connect the lumbar spine to the pelvis and femur bones and if they become tight they can place excessive pressure on the lumbar spine during many upright movements.
Gluteus Maximus – The glutes and hamstring muscles help extend the hip when walking. If the hip flexor muscles become too tight, they inhibit the ability of muscles on the other side of the joint to contract, which reduces both muscles tone and the ability to produce force.
Head – Sitting with poor posture places the head in a forward position, causing tightness in the upper back, shoulder and neck muscles, as well as reducing oxygen flow to the lungs, all of which are potential causes for headaches.
Heart and Lungs – Sitting for more than 8 hours per day can reduce aerobic efficiency while escalating levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing risk of high blood pressure or coronary artery disease.
-Increased risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
– Reduced ability to burn fat
– Risk factor for cancer
– Risk of premature death
Ways to fight the Sitting Disease
- Reducing your sitting time to fewer than 3 hours a day
- Watching less than 2 hours of television
- Use a standing desk
- Set a timer for reminders to take standing or movement breaks at work
- Stand to make calls
- Walk to errands whenever possible
- Make physical activities like walking or playing at a park a family event
- Use the stairs as often as possible
- Wear an activity tracker
By reducing our time sitting and increasing standing time, we lower our risk of serious health issues. It also increases our energy and productivity levels and lowers stress leading to better overall moods. Standing more can also boost your metabolism, tone muscles and even reduce common aches and pains. So what are you waiting for . . . . JUST STAND AND KEEP IT MOVING!
American Council on Exercise