You might have read some frightening articles about the impact sitting all day has on your body. Headlines seemed to be screaming things like ‘sitting all day is as bad for your health can be as bad as smoking’. It can be frightening to think about, but many of these scary articles do have a point: being active is incredibly important for your long-term health!
Leading a lifestyle with minimal exercise has been linked to so many health problems and, unfortunately, these problems can apply to people who spend a large portion of their day sitting.
Don’t panic though! Today I’m going to help you understand why sitting can be a big problem for your health and suggest ways you can overcome these issues!
So What’s The Damage?
Want to know something scary? It’s been reported that people who sit all day may be twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who spend most of their day standing. Add to that reports of increased rates of blood pressure, high cholesterol and unhealthy blood-sugar levels.
Another problem that sitting all day creates has to do with our posture. Most people slouch, or lean forward, putting their body at an awkward angle. All of this can put strain on your neck and lower back, leaving you with sore shoulders or headaches. Continuously sitting for long periods can also put extra stress on your spine.
Some of the other health issues linked to sitting all day include weakened muscles, reduced range of motion in the hips and decreased calorie burning. For us girls, another big concern is losing bone mass, which has been shown to be a potential long-term concern with sitting for many hours.
Something important that I want to point out is these health problems don’t just apply to people sitting all day at work. These problems also affect people who regularly spend several hours in front of the TV, a lot of time in the car or in front of the computer at home as well.
How You Can Reduce These Negative Impacts
You’ll be happy to know I’m not going to insist you move to standing desks or quit your office job. I will tell you how important an active lifestyle is if you sit all day and how small changes can make a big difference.
Try to get in the habit of regularly standing for a few minutes or going for a walk away from your desk. There are simple ways to get you used to the habit of taking more breaks: set a reminder to go off on the hour, or take a quick stroll whenever you have to use the bathroom. Even standing up for a stretch will help get blood flowing, as well as making your leg muscles work to support you, which is important.
Yoga can be a fantastic way to improve the mobility of your spine, which can become quite compacted after a whole day of sitting. Cat and cow pose are awesome for stretching the muscles and lengthening out your spine. Pigeon pose is also really good for opening the hips, which can be tight after a whole day of sitting.
Why Regular Exercise Is Even More Important If You Sit All Day
Spending time stretching or getting some form of physical activity is really important for everyone. A number of studies have suggested that moving regularly throughout the day is the best way to reduce the health issues that have been associated with long periods of sitting.
Basically, the more you move, the better! Also try to think about that it’s not just the hours during work that you might be sitting. Those couple of hours you spend sitting each night also add up. For some people, that equates to 12 hours of sitting per day! Try to take a break from sitting every hour or so and have a brisk walk or stand up and stretch.
In addition to being good for your back and general health, regular breaks from your desk are good for stress relief. Even if you get plenty of exercise throughout the week, be mindful of taking regular breaks from your chair. Whether you stand for short periods, go for a walk or do a quick set of stretches, your body will thank you in the long term!