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12 Reasons Why You Need to Start Moving
The average American adult sits for 6.5 hours a day. Alarmingly, that number is only increasing as we continue to increase the time we spend sitting even while we’re not at work on the computer, watching TV, or just hanging out on the couch.
But our bodies were not designed to be sedentary! Sitting has serious, frankly scary, consequences. Spending too much time sitting on our butts increases our risk of many life threatening conditions.
Here are the specific ways that too much sitting harms your health: beware.
Your Life Expectancy Goes Down
Even if you are an active person who doesn’t smoke, sitting down for more than three hours a day can cut down your life expectancy by two years. The following list describes specific health conditions that can arise from sitting too much, but being sedentary actually makes it more likely that you will die earlier from any cause.
Your Risk of Heart Disease Goes Up
There is a proven link between sitting and heart disease, first studied in bus drivers in the 1950s. While their diets and lifestyles were similar, the only factor that differed was how much they sat. Researchers found that bus drivers who sat for 90 percent of their work days had double the risk of having heart attacks than their colleagues who as conductors climbed about 600 stairs each work day. Subsequent studies have only bolstered the case against sitting to safeguard cardiovascular health.
Why exactly is heart disease linked to sitting? When you sit, blood flow slows down. This can result in a buildup of fatty acids in our blood vessels which can lead to heart disease, including high blood pressure and stroke.
Cancer is More Probable
The more you sit, the higher your odds for colon, endometrial, and lung cancer. For older women, the probability of getting breast cancer also increases. The worst part - vigorous exercise for the recommended 30 minutes a day does not protect you from this increased risk of cancer from sitting for long periods of time daily.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2011, scientists found that people who worked 10 years in sedentary jobs compared to those who had never worked sedentary jobs were twice as likely to contract colon cancer and had a 44% increased risk of rectal cancer.
You’re at Greater Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Doctors hypothesize that sitting changes the way your body reacts to insulin, possibly slowing down its rate of burning sugar and carbohydrates for energy. Plus, you burn fewer calories by sitting all day, and being overweight also raises your odds of diabetes.
You’re More Likely to Develop Dementia
Because sitting increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which are all linked to dementia, you are at higher risk for this condition.
Osteoarthritis Becomes a Greater Hazard
Your chance of developing osteoarthritis, a condition in which your bones become weak and brittle, is much greater if you sit too much. When it comes to bone health, you have to stay active to preserve it. The best way to prevent bone loss is to sneak in movement throughout your day: stretch, take walks after meals, lift weights.
Varicose Veins are Very Likely
Another side effect of sitting for too long is that blood can pool in your legs, putting extra pressure on your veins that can cause them to swell or twist into what doctors call varicose veins. The resulting varicose veins and spider veins - broken blood vessels - can cause aches.
Although scientists aren’t sure about the exact cause yet, a sedentary lifestyle can add anxiety to your life. Psychology Today explains it may have to do with the fact we’re often alone when we’re sitting, and usually engaging in screen-based activities that can disrupt your sleep.
You Could Develop a Clot
If you sit still for too long, you can develop a clot in your leg called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The clot can even travel from your leg to your lung! And because DVT shows no symptoms besides swelling and some pain, it can be very dangerous. Providing blood flow to your legs is yet another reason to break up those long sitting sessions with activity.
You Pack on Pounds
Being sedentary, by definition, involves minimal energy expenditure. In other words, sitting limits the number of calories you burn which can cause you to gain weight. Additionally, when you sit, your body’s production of the enzyme that your body produces to break down fat in your blood (lipoprotein lipase) drops by about 90 percent. Your body can’t use fat, so it stores it.
Your Back Takes a Toll
This is probably the easiest side effect of sitting to notice, and one of the most aggravating for our everyday physical and mental health. Sitting (improperly) puts stress on your back, neck, and spine because our bodies were built to be on the move, not at a desk. Additionally, most of us slouch when we sit, which can cause chronic back pain.
You’ll Undo the Effects of Exercise
You may be thinking - sure, I sit for a lot of the day, but I work out! Unfortunately, you’re not exempt from the dangers of sitting even if you work out for half an hour every single day!
So What Do We Do?
The evidence that sitting is dangerous is loud and clear. But what are we supposed to do in this day and age when some many of us work desk jobs and so much of our lives take place online?
1. Move More
The most important thing is to work more movement into your every day. Be diligent about taking breaks during which you stand up, walk around, and stretch. Doctors recommend you try to stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes for every 20 minutes of sitting. Using a fitness tracker, app, or pedometer to track your steps can do wonders. While 10,000 steps is recommended, at first just aim to increase your time spent movement and it will be beneficial.
2. Set Up an Ergonomic Workspace
3. When You Sit, Sit Smart
When you do sit, you need to sit in a chair that helps instead of hurts you. There’s only one chair that can help you both move more and ensure ergonomics. The BackStrong C1 was designed by chiropractor Dr. Dennis Colonello and industrial engineer Jim Grove specifically to combat the dangers of sitting.
Stationary sitting leaves your muscles completely inactive. The BackStrong C1 has a saddle-like seat that moves, which keeps your blood flowing and counteracts the dangerous effects of being sedentary.