Is Sitting Ruining Your Health?

man stretching after sitting

You might want to sit down for this..

Sitting down for too long is damaging your health!

Now quick, get up!

Why Is Sitting Bad For Our Health?

No one knows exactly why sitting is bad for our health but it’s most likely the combination of the lack of activity and lack of movement. Metabolism slows when we’re sitting and that’s definitely a factor, but probably not the only one.

It has been shown that how long we sit is associated with a bunch of negative health outcomes, but how long we sit at one time is a factor too. Which is good, because if you’re stuck in a chair for work, it’s good to know that it’s not a hopeless situation.

What Can Happen To You If You Sit Too Much

So far, sitting has been associated with a bunch of stuff that you don’t really want, such as:

  • Weight gain
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Shorter lifespan
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Poor spinal health
  • Varicose veins
  • Muscle atrophy

Pretty bad news.

You’re just trying to get your day’s work done before you head home and then some dick of a personal trainer tells you you’ll get fat and die early for it.

What You Can Do To Make It Better

You’d think that hitting the gym after work would sort all of this out but unfortunately it seems that it doesn’t. It definitely appears to help somewhat with the lack of activity but it doesn’t make up for a day of sitting.

Sit Less

In an ideal world, you’d just sit less, but maybe you can’t do that.

If you can, then definitely do that.

Sit-stand desks have become quite popular amongst some companies, and they’re pretty fantastic things, if you feel like sitting you can sit and if you feel like standing you can stand, all without interrupting your work.

The cheaper, and I’d imagine more common, alternative used is a standing desk. Standing all day isn’t healthy either. You’ll probably suffer different problems, but you will still run into problems.

Swollen feet and lower limbs are one issue from standing all day, but I would reason that it would also be bad for your heart too.

The problem isn’t in sitting or standing, the problem is in lack of movement. Being in the same position for too long just isn’t good for our health.

Sit For Shorter Periods

For those of us that spend a fair amount of time at a desk, the best protective measure is to break up periods of sitting with some activity, such as walking around the office, standing up and tidying up your desk, or taking calls standing up.

Time spent sitting is still a pretty big factor, but in observational studies, the ones who spent the longest sitting AND the longest sitting in one go were the ones who suffered the most for it.

People who spend less than 30 minutes sitting in one stretch had lower risk, while those who sat down for 90 minutes or longer had the greatest risk.

This sucks for me, because I’m exactly the sort of person who will sit down and focus intently on work for hours at a time (I’m working on this), luckily I have gym members to distract me!

You might have a hard time negotiating a shorter day at work or a sit-stand desk, but you probably won’t meet too much resistance for taking regular 5 minute breaks. Most bosses care more about results than the busy-ness of their staff, they probably experience the lack of energy and back pain that a lot of people do when chained to a desk. Hell, they might even join you on it.

Take A Break!

Current advice is to get up, stretch and move around after every 30 minutes of work. The Pomodoro productivity method is another good approach, in which you are focused on your work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break from work to get away from your desk and refresh yourself before the next bout.

So if you’re gaining weight, your back aches, and for some reason you’re not as fit as you used to be, take a break, stretch, and get your body moving. You’ll be doing your health and productivity a favour.

Until next time,