Updated: Mar 13
The age of computers has brought new opportunities as well as a number of problems. For example, workers who used to walk through offices to speak to other people about projects now sit at their desks and send emails. This lack of movement in daily activities has created a new health concern called "sitting disease." The problem can lead to a variety of medical problems that can be serious and even life threatening.
Why Sitting Is So Bad
Chronic sitting prevents normal blood flow throughout the body. Humans are fundamentally built for movement. The muscle action of normal movement helps to pump blood through the body to the blood vessels, internal organs and extremities. Without this constant movement, circulation slows, which can lead to deprivation of oxygen and nutrients to these systems over time.
Potential Illnesses From Chronic Sitting
· Sitting for long periods of time has been known to cause vascular problems for a long time. Blood clots can form from the lack of sufficient blood flow. However, researchers are now finding that these vascular effects can also cause damage to blood vessels, which may lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
· Sitting throughout the day can lead to obesity because calories are not burned efficiently through normal movement.
· Long periods of immobility can also affect joint health. Maintaining a bent position for long periods of time can reduce blood flow to joints and cause weakness to supporting muscles. Ultimately, the joints become less flexible and prone to damage.
· Chronic sitting can cause slower metabolism and diminished utilization of insulin in the body, which can cause Type-2 diabetes.
· Sitting for long periods also causes reduced production of biochemicals that are associated with regulating mood. Movement helps the body to produce neurotransmitter chemicals that contribute to good mental health, concentration and healthy sleep patterns.
· Chronic sitting may also contribute to cancer, because metabolic processes that control normal cell renewal may be reduced.
People Who Are At Risk Of Sitting Disease
Individuals who work at computers all day are at special risk of the illnesses associated with sitting disease. Students who spend long hours at their studies can also be increasing their risk of these illnesses. Retired people who spend too much time watching TV are also at risk.
What You Can Do To Get Moving
Knowing the damage that chronic sitting can cause to your body can motivate you to implement more movement into your daily tasks.
· Get up to go to other peoples' desks to discuss information about tasks. Don't rely on email.
· Take frequent breaks throughout the workday to stretch and walk around the office. Take a brisk walk during your lunch hour.
· Look for opportunities to add movement to your day. Park further away from your workplace and walk the extra distance. Get out of the elevator a few floors early and take the stairs for the rest of the way. Walk the distance to the next bus stop to catch the bus. Always be aware that movement is good for your overall health.
· Maintain a careful diet. Sitting can cause the metabolism to slow significantly, which can lead to weight problems. Eat whole-grains, lean meats and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to counteract the bad effects of sitting.
· Be diligent in engaging in exercise every day, either at a gym, outdoors or at home. Set up machines in an area of your home that you can use whenever you have a moment. Play a sport that allows you to work out regularly. Begin a jogging routine or take a spinning class. Do yoga and Pilates at home to ensure you get daily exercise even on busy days.
You can still maintain optimum health, even if you have a sitting job or tend to sit throughout the day. Balance your work, exercise and healthy eating to avoid the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.