10 Common Side Effects Of Sitting Too Long

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As we spend more time sitting at desks, in front of screens, or during extended commutes, our bodies pay the price. Extended periods of sitting have been linked to a wide range of health issues, both physical and mental.

Increased Risk of Obesity

Prolonged sitting reduces calorie burn, contributing to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity. Engaging your muscles through physical movement plays a crucial role in facilitating the digestion of fats and sugars consumed. However, spending prolonged periods in a seated position can hinder the efficiency of this digestion process, leading to the retention of fats and sugars as stored fat within the body.

It is important to note that even if you incorporate exercise into your routine, prolonged sitting poses potential health risks, including metabolic syndrome. Recent research indicates that combating the dangers of excessive sitting requires approximately 60 to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day.

Musculoskeletal Issues

Sitting for long periods can lead to muscle imbalances, lower back pain, and postural problems, affecting overall musculoskeletal health. Regular stretching and exercise can help alleviate these issues.

Cardiovascular Complications

Studies have shown that sitting for extended periods is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels.

Metabolic Disorders

Insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes are commonly observed in individuals who sit for extended periods.

Reduced Brain Function

Sitting for long hours negatively impacts cognitive performance, including memory, attention span, and creativity.

Poor Circulation

Sitting too long hampers blood flow, potentially leading to swollen legs, varicose veins, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Digestive Issues

The two primary factors that negatively impact your gut health from too much sitting are decreased blood flow and increased pressure on your digestive tract, causing gastrointestinal discomfort.

Increased Risk of Certain Cancers

Studies have linked excessive sitting with a higher likelihood of developing certain cancers. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals that individuals who spend more time sitting have a significantly higher risk of developing certain types of cancer, up to 66% higher compared to those who are less sedentary.

Mental Health Challenges

Sedentary behaviour is associated with an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.

Weakened Bone Density

Lack of weight-bearing exercise during prolonged sitting can contribute to decreased bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis.

How Many Hours of Sitting Is Healthy?

The ideal amount of time to sit in a day is a subject of ongoing research and debate among health experts. While it is challenging to pinpoint an exact number of hours that constitutes “sitting too long,” several guidelines and recommendations have been proposed to promote a more active lifestyle.

Tips To Reduce Sitting Time
  • Stand on the train or bus
  • Take the stairs and walk up the escalators
  • Set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
  • Place a laptop on a box or similar to work standing
  • Stand or walk around while on the phone
  • Take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing or calling
  • Swap some tv time for more active tasks or hobbies

For more information, please visit Affinity Health South Africa’s leading provider of health coverage.