Are you exhausted, because you have been walking all the day? Lucky you! There is more and more evidence, that sitting for several hours, e.g. in the office is not only dangerous for our musculoskeletal System, but also for our metabolism. The risk for developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer increases significantly in people, who sit most of the day. This is why my today’s post is about the health threatening effects of sitting.
A recent study performed by the American Cancer Society shows, that people who sit more than 6 hours per day have a higher mortality risk compared to those who sit less than 3 hours per day. The risk increases by 34% in women and 17% in men. Another study performed by the University of Queensland presents similar findings. They found that life expectancy of those who watch TV for more than 6 hours per day (while sitting) is shortened by 5 years compared to mobile people.
Regardless of whether in the car, in the office or on the couch: We sit most of the day. This leads to a short-term metabolic decrease, thus decreasing different organ functions, i.e. liver, kidneys, heart and the immune system.
Negative and health threatening effects of sitting
This may lead to severe problems like muscle atrophy, decreasing heart functionality and increasing blood pressure. Additionally, those people may get joint or ligament conditions and even spinal disc problems. Also, prolonged sitting affects the mind and the metabolism. While inactive muscles degrade, they also change their energy production from burning fat to burning glucose. Thus, the body fat percentage rises and fats accumulate in liver, intestine, muscles and blood vessels. Some physicians already say that prolonged sitting is as dangerous as smoking.
Inactive muscle cells lose their mitochondria ands show a decreased response to insuline. This can lead to type 2 diabetes. However, you can recognize megative short-term effects much earlier. For instance, our circulation decreases already after 45 to 60 minutes in a way, that we risk a lack of nourishment for certain body cells.
Include short “pauses” into your sitting day
Though all these facts may sound alarming, most people don’t think that it’ll be practical to move continuously. But what shall we do then? It has been shown that moving for 5 minutes per sitting hour decreases the risk of developing conditions, which are associated with sitting, significantly. A study performed by the University of Queensland investigated several subjects, who had to watch TV for five hours at three different days. They weren’t disturbed at the first day. The second and third day, they had to get up every 20 minutes and walk on a treatmill for two minutes. At the end of the days, the subjects had to drink a sweetened high-calorie drink and their blood glucose levels were measured. Interestingly, the blood glucose Levels decreased by 25%, if the sitting time was disturbed.
Thus, even short breaks affect our health in a positive manner. These “pauses” can look differently: you can stand up, fidget with your feet, walk a few meters for example during advertising breaks, during phone calls or other activities.
Sports do not compensate for prolonged sitting Habits
It has been shown, that sports cannot compenste for prolonged sitting, since some of the physiological modifications are irreversible. However, regular sports affect the body in a very positive way. Thus, it is highly recommended to include short breaks into your daily sitting habits and to include a regular sports program into your everyday life to reduce the risk of sitting-associated diseases.