While some health experts say sitting is the new smoking because of the health risks associated with prolonged sitting, others prefer to call the idea a “sitting disease.” Sitting for an extended period of time is just bad for one’s health regardless of your age, and whether or not you exercise.
Studies on the debilitating effects of prolonged sitting have been conducted for years and the findings are almost the same – prolonged sitting can increase your chances of developing chronic health conditions like heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, cancer, obesity, and lower back pain.
With all these findings, what challenges the medical community is not the lack of knowledge and evidence about this subject, but the inability of the people to follow through and create minor changes in their lifestyle to prevent themselves from having health problems.
With the fast advancement of technology, people have become more immobile nowadays than in any other period of time in history. One can do online shopping, watch TV from Netflix for as long as they like, work, text and do any other activities from the comforts of their couches and chairs.
Elevators help people skip the stairs. This may save time or energy but can put them at risk of not being able to exercise some of their muscles.
According to one study, those who were born after the 1940s have a 2.5 greater risk of developing osteoarthritis. Another study found that people who sit less than three hours a day have a greater chance of increasing their lifespan compared to those who sit for long hours.
A Sedentary Lifestyle and Health Risks
A sedentary lifestyle is one where you don’t receive enough amount of physical activity. Sitting is one form of sedentary behavior, yet it’s not the only factor that contributes to a sedentary lifestyle.
Any activity you do where you exert a minimal energy can contribute to your sedentary lifestyle. These activities may involve sitting behind your desk, commuting or relaxing on the couch for long hours while watching TV, video chatting, shopping online, and playing video games.
While these activities may seem less harmful today, they will be when the time comes, especially as you get older. One study found that prolonged sitting is particularly hazardous for people after age 50. It’s because older people are much more susceptible to the ill effects of physical inactivity.
Watching TV for hours in the evening is said to increase the likelihood of walking disability in older people. Sitting for too long can cause poor mobility as one advance in age.
Even if you exercise for about 30 minutes a day, it’s still not enough to offset the disadvantages brought about by a lack of physical activity throughout the day, according to experts.
A sedentary lifestyle is not only bad but dangerous as it can result in the following problems:
An increased risk of death from all causes had been found in women who sat for six hours or more each day compared to those who sat for three hours or less. Less active men who sat for six hours or more were more likely to die compared to more active men.
For every two hours of television viewing a day, women were found to have a 23 percent jump in risk of obesity. For every additional hour of sitting at work without getting up, women have a 5 percent increased risk of obesity.
Physical inactivity for long periods of time can cause less muscle contraction, which can lessen your body’s ability to metabolize and process carbohydrates. This can lead to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
People with a sedentary lifestyle were found to have a higher risk of cancer and even death from their diagnosis.
Lower back pain
Prolonged sitting can add a strain on your lower back, reduce your core strength, and reduce circulation to the small muscles.
Though obesity, inactivity, muscle weakness, and aging have been found to be the main contributing factors to developing osteoarthritis, experts picked inactivity to be the main cause.
Loss of independence
Older people facing immobility problems tend to lose their independence, which can lead to psychological and social challenges. The inability to live on their own makes them unable to socialize with their friends and could result in anger and depression.
How To Keep Yourself Moving
If your daily activities involve moving less, it’s now time to move your butt and enjoy an optimal health. There’s no need for you to change your activities entirely. Just tweak some of your daily routines as you keep your body moving.
There’s a lot of activities at home that can keep you moving. You can do the housework, gardening, and yard work at a more vigorous pace. Lift weights or do yoga stretches while watching TV. Walk around your block when there’s a chance or volunteer to walk your dog. When calling or receiving calls, stand up and take some steps.
Set an alarm and walk once every 30 minutes. Stand up when taking phone calls. You may even request for a standing desk to stand and stretch your muscles once in a while. Stand while reading your emails. Walk after lunch or walk on your way to work. If that isn’t possible, park your car at a distance where you can take a walk to your office. If you’re not in a hurry, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
There are unlimited ways that allow you to move your body wherever you are. If you’re driving on long trips, stop the car from time to time and get out to stretch your muscles.
Your health is important. You don’t have to risk it in exchange for small pleasures like sitting and doing nothing.
You may live at a time when you can do business or pleasure within the comforts of your home, but don’t allow the technological advancement to rob you of your health. You can’t enjoy all the wealth you acquire when you suffer from the risk of living a sedentary lifestyle.
After all, your health is your wealth. Now, go and keep moving.