5 Ways Sitting At Your Desk Is Killing You
Many people believe that they are staving off disease and poor health by complying with the prevailing recommendation to exercise between 45 and 60 minutes each day. However, scientists have discovered through recent studies that even this kind of commitment will not save you from the effects of an overall sedentary lifestyle featuring prolonged sitting. In other words, those eight hours a day you put in at the office are still slowly killing you.
While this may sound far-fetched, the body of research now available in this area suggests strongly that the longer you sit each day, the greater your chances are for an early death, regardless of how much or how intensely you exercise. According to Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, "Regularly exercising is not the same as being active. A person may hit the gym every day, but if he's sitting a good deal of the rest of the time, he's probably not leading an overall active life."
The underlying problem is that in today's world, much of the average lifestyle is now geared toward sedentary sitting. Office jobs frequently involve sitting at a desk for most of the day, life at home generally includes substantial sitting time, and even when you go out for dinner or visit with friends and relatives, a good deal of that time is spent sitting rather than being active.
The cumulative effects of sedentary sitting through much of any given day are so detrimental to your health that there are several different ways you are slowly being killed by your desk job, or by taking up residence on the sofa at home. Here are five of the most prominent ways that sitting is negatively affecting your health.
Heart diseases and other heart problems
In 2009, Dr. Katzmarzyk studied the lives of more than 17,000 men and women, and discovered that those who performed almost no exercise during the day were 54% more likely to develop heart disease than those who were active for most of the day. While this in itself is not such a surprising conclusion, the surprising part about his findings were that the weight of these men and women had little to no bearing on the results - nor did it matter it matter how much they exercised. Those who spent the majority of their day sitting still developed heart problems, regardless of age, weight, and exercise program.
Type 2 diabetes
For people who sit as much as 8 to 12 hours each day or even more, the likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes is 90% more probable than for people who lead active lifestyles. Body cells that are inactive do not respond to insulin produced by the pancreas as well as active body cells, so the pancreas just keeps producing more and more insulin, and this can easily lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes.
When you sit for long periods of time without interruption, blood circulation gradually becomes worse and worse. This can cause fluids to accumulate in the legs and ankles, and can also lead to varicose veins. Even worse, dangerous blood clots can form in the legs in a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can not only cause leg problems, but can be life-threatening if the clot should break free and settle in some other crucial part of the body, like near the heart.
Neck, back, hips, muscles
By sitting at a desk most of the day and/or sitting at home most of the day, it becomes very easy to develop stiffness in the muscles, as well as pain in the neck, lower back, and hips. This is because the muscles of the body are covered by a thin connective tissue called fascia, and although this fascia is flexible, it tends to become fixed in the position it is set at most frequently.
When sedentary sitting is the primary position, the connective fascia tends to adapt itself to that position, and over time it becomes more and more fixed. When muscles around the entire body are used in any way that contradicts the adaptive position, they become sore and painful.
Studies conducted on the subject illustrate that people classified as obese sit for an average of 2.5 hours more each day than their thinner counterparts. When you sit, calorie-burning is reduced to a rate of just 1 calorie per minute, which in effect is negligible. With more than one-third of all Americans classified as obese, as opposed to just 10% in 1960, obesity is clearly rising significantly in tandem with more sedentary lifestyles.
Obesity contributes to heart problems, tendency to develop diabetes, and high blood pressure. Men and women are much more apt to develop any or all of these health conditions and other diseases as well once they become obese. The presence of all that extra body fat becomes a ticking time bomb that cannot be reversed unless the fat is shed.
The inescapable conclusion from all the above is that there are many ways in which sedentary sitting is hazardous to your health. These have slow, cumulative effects which can seriously impact your health over time and can create hazards that take years off your life, while also reducing your quality of life.