Sitting is involved in a lot of activities we do on a daily basis. This ranges from eating breakfast, commuting to office, to working behind our desk. Even moreso, now that working from home is a popular working method, sitting to do work and attend online meetings involve extended period of time at our desks, sometimes almost all day long.
However, the human body is actually not designed to sit for prolonged periods of time. Even though ergonomic products are available to support this activity, researches have shown that there's an increase of health problems, and even irreversible damage done to the body when we tend to sit all day. On this week's journal, we will address some health factors that may be affected with your inactivity and sedentary lifestyle caused by too much sitting. Read on!
Circulatory problems is often synonymous with inactive lifestyle, and when you spend your time sitting too long, you're also prone to this problem. For instance, prolonged sitting time may slow down your circulation and cause blood to gather around the legs and feet. This can lead to varicose veins, swollen ankles, or even dangerous blood clots like deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Inactive lifestyle also causes the body to store more fat and prone to blood circulation problems. These two factors are the major cause of fatty deposits around the artery, which can then cause cardiovascular problems like elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, to heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that there's at least more than 50% increased risk of heart disease for those who are spending their time sitting down compared to those who aren't doing it as much.
It's only logical that when you have less physical activity, your body will store energy that you get from consuming food, into fat. Therefore, inactive lifestyle may also lead to weight gain. Studies show that prolonged sitting habit may reduce lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity, which can impact the body’s ability to burn fat. The body will opt to use carbohydrate as energy source, while constantly storing fat. This is why one can't seem to lose weight effectively even on a low-calorie diet, without doing physical activities on the side. Moving promotes release of lipoprotein lipase by our muscles, promoting effective usage of fat and sugar consumed. Sitting tends to lower the release of this molecule, and increased fat storage on the mid and lower point of your body. A study have found that men who spent more time sitting than usual, gained more weight around the middle, which is the most dangerous place to store fat.
Increased risk of diabetes
Following the previous point, a number of studies also show that there's a strong link between inactivity, total sitting time and development of diabetes. A higher risk of diabetes is shown in people who have sedentary lifestyle, and prolonged sitting being one of the major factors. Low physical activity contributes to elevation of insulin and decrease of enzyme activity, which can cause imbalance of blood sugar levels and eventually diabetes.
Affects body posture and overall muscle strength
Working from home forces us to do more sitting while reducing physical activities, such as walking from the parking lot to the cubicles of your office, or going downstairs from your office to grab some lunch. Lack of movements from prolonged sitting may lead to weak muscles, especially on the mid and lower section of the body. Muscles within this area are affected as they may shorten when not in use for an extended period of time, causing you to have weak lower body and more prone to strains and injury during exercise. Aside from muscle degeneration, prolonged sitting and slouching, especially when using devices like computer or smartphone, may cause a variety of problems for your neck, shoulders, and back. Especially with improper furniture or ones without ergonomic functions, bad posture is very likely to happen. While working on the computer, for example, the body is prone to lean forward, shoulder rounded, and neck pressured. Prolonged periods of strain and pressure like this are not only uncomfortable, but can also cause chronic pain.
Increased risk of depression
Last but not least, sitting all day can actually impact your mental wellness negatively. Research is still very well ongoing on this factor, but it has so far shown that rates of depression and anxiety are higher in people who are more inactive and tend to sit for longer period of time. This finding may convince you more to actually live a more active lifestyle, by allocating some time to implement daily exercise routine. The body produces feel-good hormones during exercise and this may help greatly, in order to alleviate stress and mental pressure caused by sedentary lifestyle.