Sit down - relax! Take a load off. Sitting is something that we all do every day - and seemingly harmless activity, at that. It’s usually the easiest way to catch a moment of rest and has become the go-to position for many people who work at a desk or in front of a computer. When you’re required to be in one spot for long periods of time, sitting seems like the obvious answer.
However, we weren’t meant to sit all day. Yet, one in four Americans sits for more than 8 hours per day. And office workers? Many of them sit for up to 15 hours. In fact, since 1950, sedentary jobs have increased by 88%.
The hard truth is that sitting can cause some very real health hazards when it becomes a way of life. Though none of these effects happen as the result of one long day of sitting, they can be truly dangerous if sitting becomes all you do.
What are the top concerns associated with a sedentary lifestyle and what makes them dangerous to your health?
Blood Sugar Levels Rise
Research has shown that sitting for long periods of time can cause blood sugar levels to rise. Alternatively, when just simple walking breaks are introduced into an otherwise sedentary day, these levels show a 30% improvement. In short, your body needs movement - even very basic movement - to better process food and regulate steady blood sugar levels. When you remain in a sedentary state, the energy-conservation mode that your body goes into also deprives your body of the ability to better regulate functions like blood sugar levels.
Metabolism Slows Down
Sitting is an act of rest. Our bodies naturally slow down to preserve energy when we give it this signal. Thus, when we sit for an extended amount of time, our metabolism takes the cue and begins to “conserve” calories by slowing our metabolism down. What was meant as a survivalist instinct, can actually be leading to unnecessary weight gain if sitting becomes too much of a lifestyle.
Risk For Heart Disease Increases
Sitting for long periods has also been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease. When you sit for long periods of time, your blood flow slows down as a response to the “rest” effect. Then, because your blood flow slows down, fatty acids can slowly begin to build up in your blood vessels, which begins to put your heart health in more danger.
Prolonged sitting has also been linked to developing insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Both of these conditions also put your heart health at further risk.
Mobility Becomes Compromised
Guess what? When you stay in one position for long periods of time, it has a negative effect on your mobility. Have you ever been sitting in one position for a while, and when you go to stand up, you feel stiff or even have difficulty standing? That’s because when you sit for hours, you don’t challenge your other muscles with basic movement. As a result, you are depriving your joints of the fluid that acts as a lubricant for mobility, triggered by simply moving.
Proper Posture Becomes Difficult To Maintain
Because your body isn’t being challenged by even the basic balance needed to stand up and walk, it becomes more difficult to maintain and hold good posture. Though you’re technically in a resting state, by remaining in the same position for hours on end, you’re still putting your body at risk for an “overuse” injury of sorts. As you stay in the same position for a prolonged period of time, the strength in your core, back, and hips will start to tire, and eventually lead to a breakdown in posture.
Lower Back Injury Risk Increases
As maintaining good posture becomes more difficult, your risk of injury will increase. This is particularly true for the lower back. With bad posture comes disc compression in your spine, which can lead to disc degeneration or herniation – neither of which are too comfortable. Perhaps the most frightening part of this risk is that it creeps up over time, and is usually a result of poor postural habits over a long period, making it more difficult to spot early on.
The Bottom Line
Though prolonged sitting isn’t ideal, we understand that it is a part of the modern workday for many people. And, the real issue is not moving enough.
The best way to combat some of these rightfully scary hazards caused by prolonged sitting is to be mindful of incorporating movement into your routine. Whether this is taking the stairs in the morning instead of an elevator, taking occasional stretch breaks at your desk, standing while you take phone calls, or working in a brisk walk during your lunchtime, there are plenty of ways to work movement into any day.
The good news is that this isn’t necessarily about needing to transform yourself into an athlete, but more about being mindful of movement throughout your day and creating healthier, long-term habits.
How Chiropractic Can Help Keep You Healthy
Another way that you can support your body and promote regular, pain-free movement is by seeking out consistent chiropractic care. Chiropractic adjustments of the spine can help realign your body to keep the nervous and immune systems functioning properly while addressing any injuries, aches, or pains that may pop up from day-to-day life. Oftentimes, individuals unknowingly have a misalignment of the spine that can cause a myriad of pain patterns – which chiropractic care and adjustments can help to alleviate.
Prioritize your health. Schedule an appointment online or call (949) 649-8790.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.