The globalizing world has brought drastic changes in the way humans work and communicate, especially if you compare it with the prehistoric times. However, research and health experts have associated long periods of sitting with multiple health problems like obesity, high blood sugar, depression, stress, metabolic syndrome and so on. An estimated 65% of the global population spends 7 – 10 hours (or even more) sitting before a computer every day.
A human body is designed to move regularly. Being inactive for longer periods can be highly detrimental to the health. In fact, it affects from head to toe. Certainly, the effects will not happen just in a day. It will develop gradually.
So, here are 10 devastating effects of sitting and working for too long at a desk.
1. Bad Back, Pain in the Shoulders and Neck
Sitting for too long puts a lot of pressure on the spine. The back’s health is at a bigger risk or can turn worse if you are sitting hunched before a computer. About 40% of the population complain of having a bad back only because they sit before the computer for too long.
The way you sit matters. If you are not using a good ergonomic chair, you will soon experience severe back pain, shoulder, and neck pain. Wrong seating position and incorrect posture also causes firmness on the spine discs and leads to premature degeneration, resulting in chronic pain.
The discs in the back contract and expand when the body moves, which helps them to absorb nutrients and blood. But when one sits, the discs compress more and lose their flexibility. This way one encounters bodily aches and stiffness.
2. Earlier Death
Multiple studies around the globe have proven that physical inactiveness for prolonged periods leads to unimaginable health problems. This is a known truth but what is more horrifying is the report from World Health Organization. According to this report, being inactive (physically) or sitting for longer periods in front of a computer is the fourth leading factor of death.
So, how much difference can it actually make? Well, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that there was an apparent “connection” between “sitting” & “all-cause mortality.” The research involved the samples of 200,000 participants and demonstrated that sitting for more than 11 hours per day increased the chances of death by 40%.
According to the World Health Organization’s report, inactivity was the major cause of an estimated quarter of colon and breast cancers, 30% of heart cases, and 27% of diabetes cases.
3. Depression, Stress, and Anxiety
Besides affecting the physical health, sitting for longer duration has serious mental effects too. In fact, the risk of anxiety and depression are higher in individuals who spend their most time sitting.
4. Weight Gain
When the body moves, your muscles discharge molecules like lipoprotein lipase, which help in processing the sugars and fats you eat. But, when you spend most of the time sitting, this “releasing activity of molecules” lessen. Further, your buttocks and hip are at a bigger risk of widening.
The cells become fattier, and the body increases the plasma triglyceride levels (fatty molecules), insulin resistance, and LDL or bad cholesterol. The body then reaches a point where it can no longer accept the insulin, further, stressing the pancreas and liver.
5. Weaker Legs
Well, if you are not going to move them, you will eventually, lose them! The main purpose of legs to hold your body weight but you are switching this job role to your back. When you sit, the lower muscles help you hold up, which causes muscle atrophy (weakening of the muscles). Gradually, your legs start feeling weak and fail to balance the body weight. With strong glute and leg muscles, the body is more prone to injuries as well.
6. Gradual Loss of Memory Power
Of course, you might be organizing tasks, using serious thinking skills, or solving big problems while using a computer but the brain becomes foggy in a few years. When you move, the muscles pump oxygen and blood to the brain; thereby, releasing mood-enhancing chemicals. But when you are sedentary for a longer time, the way a healthy brain functions also slows down.
7. Fatal Cardiovascular Problems
Whenever you sit, the flow of blood becomes slower, and the muscles tend to burn less fat. Hence, it makes it effortless for the fatty acids to block your heart. When the blood vessels and arteries leading to your heart are blocked, you know what happens next. It leads to strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems.
8. Posture Problems
Sitting for longer periods of leads to poor or weak posture as well, which in due course strains the shoulders, neck, and back. The more time one spends sitting, the more likely he or she slips into a slouch or lean position. Sitting puts more pressure on the vertebrae and increases the chances of a herniated disc.
9. Varicose Veins
Sitting all day also causes the blood to gather in the legs, which leads to a common problem called spider veins or varicose veins. Though they are not harmful, these visible and swollen veins can be unattractive. Rarely, they lead to a fatal condition like blood clot.
10. Digestion Issues
If you have the habit of sitting right after you have eaten, then the contents of the abdomen begin to compress, which in turn slows the digestion process. When this happens on a regular basis, the sluggish digestion leads to cramping, heartburn, bloating, dysbiosis, and constipation in the gastrointestinal tract.
What To Do If You Are Sitting Too Long?
- Take stairs whenever you can. This will boost blood circulation and heart rate.
- Park your vehicle far from your office so that you can take a longer walk.
- Walk with your classmates or colleagues often than sticking to once place.
- Use a nice that chair has armrest.
- Set reminders to help you move for 10 minutes in every one hour.
- Take a stroll outside during coffee and lunch breaks.
- Stretch your muscles often. Do small leg exercises while sitting.
- Do not let your foot to rest for too long.