Sitting for Too Long Leads to Weight Gain, Poor Blood Circulation and More

Hot Health
By Hot Health August 15, 2018 12:41
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Sitting for Too Long Leads to Weight Gain, Poor Blood Circulation and More

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The Sedentary Life: 10 Dangers of Sitting Too Long and What You Can Do About It

One of the most common positions we find ourselves in is the sitting position. We sit during our daily commute, whether that be in an automobile or on public transit. We sit throughout the workday when we are at our desks, and we often sit when we get home, whether that be at the dinner table or in front of the television. This means that on average, the majority of individuals are sitting between six and ten hours a day without much opportunity for rigorous physical exercise. Unfortunately, since our bodies are not built to consistently sit, we suffer for it through ailing mental health, higher risk of early death, and increased risk for chronic health problems like heart disease, cancer, and obesity. In this article, we will explore the sedentary life and how the dangers of sitting can be detrimental to your health and what you can do about it!

 

How Does The Sedentary Life Affect Your Well-Being?

We all know that too much sitting is bad for us but because we can’t see what exactly goes wrong in our bodies when we park ourselves for an extended period of time, it can be very difficult to imagine the gravity that sitting has on our health. Below, you will find outlined a detailed look at what is going on when you sit for longer than a few hours at a time.

You May Induce Organ Damage: although these are covered more in depth below, prolonged sitting can cause direct damage to your heart, pancreas, and organs. Inactivity means your body is unable to reduce harmful factors like free radicals, slow insulin responses, and high levels of bad cholesterol.

Your Brain May Suffer Greatly: when you are moving, you are pumping oxygen and fresh blood through your brain which releases chemicals that enhance your mood. When you are not active, these chemicals don’t get pumped as frequently, which may contribute to brain fog and decreased brain functions. This can increase how often you get headaches and can lead to permanent physical imbalances.

You May Induce Muscle Degeneration: when slumped in a chair, not only do you create mushy abdominals but you make your back muscles all tight which can exaggerate the back’s natural arch and cause back pain. This may also lead to a strained neck, sore shoulders and sore back muscles from being slumped forward.  In addition to this, chronic sitters will rarely move their hip flexors, leading to decreased hip mobility and a lower range of motion. Finally, your glutes (buttocks) will go soft which will hurt your stability and limit your stride.

You May Gain Weight: another effect of sitting for prolonged periods of time is a decrease in the amount of LPL activity. LPL stands for lipoprotein lipase activity and is the system which allows us to burn fat. If this system is decreased in any way, we burn less fat. This is what leads you to gain weight when you sit as you will burn less fat, have an increase in fat stores, and encourages your body to use up carbohydrates as fuel rather than the fat on your body. This is one of the reasons why individuals will still gain weight even when consuming a low-calorie diet, as their body will never actually use up the fat for fuel.

Blood Circulation Could Become Poor: although this generally goes unnoticed, when we sit, our blood pools up in our legs and feet, which leads to poor blood circulation. Beyond this, when the blood pools, we can get swollen ankles, have water retention otherwise known as edema, and we run the risk of developing blood clots and varicose veins.

Heart Disease Could Become a Real Risk: when we sit for prolonged periods of time, our blood circulation slows down and becomes poorer. We burn less fat, have higher levels of blood pressure, and our cholesterol levels become elevated. All of which contributes to an increased risk of developing heart disease.

You Could Increase Your Risk for Diabetes Significantly: there is a higher risk of diabetes in those who are physically inactive as decreased muscle mass lowers insulin sensitivity. This means that the cells in your body actually respond slower to insulin, increasing your risk of developing diabetes. A study done back in 2017 showcased that the total time sitting has little association to diabetes risk for the population as a whole but specifically correlates in those who are completely physically inactive.

Chronic Pain: if you have a ton of pain in your neck, back, hips, legs, and shoulders that never seems to go away, you are suffering from chronic pain that may be from sitting all day long. The longer you sit throughout the day, the more likely you are to have bad sitting form or posture, which means weaker musculoskeletal connections and thus more pain-related conditions.

Your Mental Health May Suffer – Anxiety and Depression Hit Hard: those who sit all day long are not getting regular exercise. This means that you will not get the mood-boosting effects that come with getting staying fit. When you are regularly exercising, not only do you keep your hormones in check, but you ensure that your circulation is working properly and that your body is getting exposed to fresh air and sunshine. Beyond this, when you sit all day long indoors, you limit your social interactions and get little to no vitamin D, which increases your chances for depression and anxiety disorders.

Cell Growth in Some Cancers Could Be Boosted: one of the scariest side effects of sitting for a prolonged period is the increase in some cancers. Although the exact correlation isn’t clear, research suggests that sedentary behavior can boost the body’s production of insulin. This, in turn, boosts and encourages cancer cell growth in lung, uterine, breast, colon, and endometrial cancers. Some contributing factors include metabolic dysfunction, inflammation, weight gain, and hormone fluctuations, all of which are exacerbated by sitting for hours.

 

What You Can Do to Reduce The Dangers of Sitting for Too Long!

The number one thing you can do is build more activity into your day. Whether this is walking or cycling to work, using the stairs instead of the elevator, getting off the bus at an earlier stop, or heading out for a walk on your lunch break, find small ways to become more active. Other ways of becoming more active that many people don’t think about include:

  • If you work in a desk environment, alternate between sitting and standing up and make sure to take at least a small walk every thirty minutes.
  • When you are at your computer or desk reading e-mails, stand up and walk around for a few seconds after at least 20 minutes of checking e-mails.
  • Instead of calling your co-worker’s phone to ask them a question, walk to their desk and ask. 
  • Try to walk for at least 10 minutes of your lunch break.
  • If you have a transportation job (bus driver, train driver/engineer, etc) that requires sitting for extended periods of time, if permissible, every few stops while the train is unloading/loading passengers, stand up and move in place for a few seconds, or stretch for a couple of seconds. 
  • When you are tidying up around the home, take small trips to extend how active you are during the activity.
  • When you are talking on the phone, stand up and pace.
  • If you enjoy audiobooks, do them while you clean or go for a walk.
  • Move your trash bin as far away as possible so you have to walk farther for it.
  • Instead of sitting on a chair, use a wobbly exercise ball or a backless stool to push you to sit with a correct posture. Just make sure to keep your back straight and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Make sure to stretch your body out at least once to twice a day. This is especially true for your hip flexors!
  • If you have regular television at home, get up and take a walk during the commercial breaks.

Keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to go “gung-ho” and ramp up your exercise levels like crazy but just doing small things like taking short walking breaks or switching up whether you take the stairs or the elevator can help immensely for reducing your risk for heart disease and circulation problems. By building small, easily obtainable, routines into your daily life that involve more exercise, you will eventually not even realize how active you truly are!

Hot Health
By Hot Health August 15, 2018 12:41
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