Spending hours sitting at work only to go home and sit in front of TV isn’t only bad for your back and waistline. Sedentary lifestyle can be harmful for your overall health and wellbeing and experts compare this behavior to smoking. Is your level of physical activity low? Do you spend most of the time sitting or taking naps? Keep reading this post to find out why your seemingly harmless habit might jeopardize your health.
Dangers of sitting
According to Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic – Arizona State University Obesity Solutions, sitting is more dangerous than smoking and kills more people than HIV. Levine is well-known for coining the now famous term sitting is the new smoking and strongly supports the idea that we are sitting ourselves to death. However, Levine’s opinion about sedentary lifestyle has a solid scientific foundation. A wide array of scientific researches confirmed that lack of physical activity has severe consequences for our health.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published results of the review conducted by scientists at the University of Regensburg, Germany wherein they analyzed 43 studies, including more than 4 million people and 68,936 cancer cases. Findings of this extensive review suggest that sitting for long period of time increases risks for colon, endometrial and, possible, lung cancer.
On the other hand, Alpa V. Patel and a team of scientists at the American Cancer Society conducted a study which surveyed 53,440 men and 69,776 women who were healthy at the start of the research. Results, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that during the course of the 14-year-old study frequent sitters had higher mortality rate. In fact, men and women who spent more than 6 hours a day sitting died earlier than their counterparts who limited sitting time to 3 hours a less per day.
Prolonged sitting increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes according to the review of studies published in the Diabetologia. Scientists discovered that sedentary lifestyle affects blood sugar levels and insulin in the body. This means that people who spend too much time sitting aren’t only more likely to become obese, but to get Type 2 diabetes as well.
The pile of health risks associated with sedentary lifestyle keeps getting bigger. For example, staying seated for more than eight hours a day strongly affects your muscles. The reason is simple; muscles are pliable but when they are locked in a sitting position for too long they get stiff. If you spend most of your day sitting for a longer period of time you will find it difficult to run, jump, or even stand. Experts believe this is the primary reason why elderly people have issues with mobility.
Besides these harmful effects, sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to the following:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Sleep problems
- High blood pressure
- Cognitive decline.
- Stand while talking on the phone
- Exercise regularly
- Use stairs instead of elevators
- Don’t park your car near work
- Get NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) – includes stretching, bending, and turning for 10 minutes each hour
- Multi-task while watching TV.
Sedentary lifestyle is usually associated with overweight and obesity, but it does more than that. In fact, sitting for a long period of time is linked with multiple diseases and conditions as well as higher mortality rate. It’s important to exercise regularly and make sure you don’t spend too much time sitting down.