“If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you have a higher chance of being overweight, developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease, and experiencing depression and anxiety.” — Better Health Channel, Victorian State Government
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In today’s post we look at:
- Just how dangerous to our health sitting (and lying down) for long periods can be.
- And a quick and simple 3 minute exercise you can do several times everyday day, to wake everything up and help keep you healthy.
A sedentary (lots of sitting and lying down) lifestyle can be dangerous to your health. And that standing and moving around during the day, can lower the risk of early death.
This is a topic that is becoming increasingly import today because generally speaking, as more and more technology comes into our lives, we seem to be less active on the whole. And spend more time on our “bums” and our “backs”
How does a sedentary lifestyle affect your body?
Humans are built to stand upright. Our heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively this way.
Our bowel also functions more efficiently when we are upright. It is common for people who are bedridden in hospital to experience problems with their bowel function.
When you are physically active, on the other hand, your overall energy levels and endurance improve, and your bones maintain strength.
It’s part of our “nature” to be standing and active, moving around through our day. When we work with the way we are designed everything “flows” (pun intended) better. The next section of the article looks at the impact little or no movement has on us.
Legs and gluteals (bum muscles)
Sitting for long periods can lead to atrophy of large leg and gluteal muscles, where they weaken and waste away.
If you don’t use them, you lose them! These large muscles are important for walking and for stabilising you. If these muscles are weak you are more likely to injure yourself from falls, and from strains when you do exercise.
Moving your muscles helps your body digest the fats and sugars you eat. If you spend a lot of time sitting, digestion is not as efficient, so you retain those fats and sugars as fat in your body.
Even if you exercise, but spend a large amount of time sitting, you are still risking health problems, such as metabolic syndrome. The latest research suggests you need 60–75 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity to combat the dangers of excessive sitting.
Hips and Back
Just like your legs and gluteals, your hips and back will not support you as well if you sit for long periods. Sitting causes your hip flexor muscles to shorten, which can lead to problems with your hip joints.
Sitting for long periods can also cause problems with your back, especially if you consistently sit with poor posture or don’t use an ergonomically designed chair or workstation. Poor posture may also cause poor spine health such as compression in the discs in your spine, leading to premature degeneration, which can be very painful.
Anxiety and Depression
We don’t understand the links between sitting and mental health as well as we do the links between sitting and physical health yet, but we do know that the risk of both anxiety and depression is higher in people that sit more.
This might be because people who spend a lot of time sitting are missing the positive effects of physical activity and fitness. If so, getting up and moving may help.
Emerging studies suggest the dangers of sitting include increasing your chances of developing some types of cancer, including lung, uterine, and colon cancers. The reason behind this is not yet known.
Sitting for long periods has been linked to heart disease. One study found that men who watch more than 23 hours of television a week have a 64 per cent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than men who only watch 11 hours of television a week.
Some experts say that people who are inactive and sit for long periods have a 147 per cent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
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Studies have shown that even five days lying in bed can lead to increased insulin resistance in your body (this will cause your blood sugars to increase above what is healthy). Research suggests that people who spend more time sitting have a 112 per cent higher risk of diabetes.
Sitting for long periods can lead to varicose veins or spider veins (a smaller version of varicose veins). This is because sitting causes blood to pool in your legs.
Varicose veins aren’t usually dangerous, but they can be unsightly. In rare cases, they can lead to blood clots, which can cause serious problems (see deep vein thrombosis, below).
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Sitting for too long can cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT), even on a long plane or car trip. A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the veins of your leg.
DVT is a serious problem, because if part of a blood clot in the leg vein breaks off and travels, it can cut off the blood flow to other parts of the body, including your lungs, which can cause a pulmonary embolism. This is a medical emergency that can lead to major complications or even death.
Stiff Neck and Shoulders
If you spend your time hunched over a computer screen, this can lead to pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.
But we need to also remember too much activity and not enough sleep and rest can also cause serious problems.
And that balance lies somewhere in between those two points and it is where we can find health.
Now let’s look at a 3 minute, fun solution that can be done at home and/or work several times a day and can help you get enough movement to stay healthy.
Does this mean, no more “binge watching” your favourite programs on TV, or you have to go out and find a new job?
Not at all.
It’s a just gentle “nudge” Designed to get you to have a look at how important movement is and how much you have in your life.
Because doing a “little” now can prevent a “lot” later on.
Hope you got something out of this and thank you for stopping by today…
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