The Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Posted by Jesse Flores on

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Did you know there's something you're doing every single day that's probably taking years off your life?

Not to sound like a teenager but, everyone does it. It's impossible to avoid it. But you can limit how much you do it. 

It's sitting. Not just sitting, but sitting too much. 

Given that many of us have desk jobs, long commutes, and choose to unwind by binging Netflix, it's no surprise that the average person sits 12 hours a day. That's a pretty sedentary lifestyle. 

Disclaimer: This article was written while standing. 

But our bodies weren't made to sit and when we forgo activity for that long, it can do some damage. Let's take a look at what sitting does to our bodies and what we can do to lessen its impact.  

Heart

When you sit too long, you increase your risk of dying from heart disease by up to 64 percent. It also increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. 

Standing more decreases your risk of death from a heart attack

Mind

People that sit too much have thinner structures in the regions of the brain that impact memory. These regions have a significant effect on your likelihood of Alzheimer’s or dementia. It also increases your risk of stroke. 


Moving is better for your brain, your energy, and your focus. 10 minutes of movement can increase your mental focus and 71% of employees feel better after reducing sitting by 1 hour. 

Body

Sitting too much can also increase your risk of diabetes. Doctors actually think that sitting may change the way your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that helps burn sugar and carbs for energy. So, if you sit too much, you'll also gain weight. 

It's also just not going to feel good on your body. You could develop deep vein thrombosis, a clot that forms in your leg, varicose veins which could cause soreness in your legs, and you also put excessive stress on your back muscles, neck, and spine leading to a sore back and muscles. 

Older adults are also more likely to develop osteoporosis.

What can you do? 

Ok, enough doom and gloom. While this all seems pretty intense, there's good news. You can counteract the effects of our sedentary lives by… you guessed it, moving.  

And, when you consider the following facts from JustStand.org, why wouldn't you?

  • Standing more boosts your metabolism
  • Standing more increases circulation, and blood flow impacts every system in the body
  • Standing with proper posture puts the spine into a more aligned position
  • Standing on the job promotes greater mental awareness and increases productivity
  • When you move, your body pumps mood-enhancing chemicals to your brain. 

So, moving more makes you feel better, makes you more productive, puts you in a better mood and increases your life expectancy...but, how do you get moving if you sit at a desk all day?

Alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes is recommended for optimum health. Even working out for 7 hours a week can't reverse the effects of a 7-hour sitting session, so make sure you're breaking up your sitting time. If you can't take a break every half hour, try a standing desk. Or, just get up and stretch. Touch your toes. Move around your office. Grab some coffee or a snack. Stand while you make a phone call. You don't have to run a mile every half hour, just move your body. 

If you're moving and standing more, make sure your shoes are supporting you. Get the right insoles so that increasing your standing time doesn't cause alignment issues or sore feet. 

That Netflix binge might feel good on Friday night but think about it's impacting your health in the long run. You can still watch Netflix, just take a walk whenever it asks if you're still watching

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you experience persistent pain, consult your healthcare provider.


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