8 Signs That You Are Sitting Down Too Much
If you have a desk job sitting in a chair, it could literally be killing you. One of the fastest growing diseases in the Western world is the “sitting disease”. The human body was not meant to sit for long periods of time, yet many of us do it several hours each day.
So how do you know if you are becoming a victim of the sitting disease? Here are six of the classic signs:
1) Gaining Weight
By not getting up and moving, your body is not burning as many calories as it is taking in. If you are so tired after work that you crash on the couch, you are just adding to the problem. The result is weight gain. Getting up and walking away from your desk periodically and taking a walk during your lunch break are both good ways to burn more calories, plus they will stimulate your mind.
This side effect usually develops after months or years of spending most of your days sited. When the body is engaged in physical activity, calories are burnt to produce energy and the processing of fat and sugar is heightened. Since sitting requires no effort, fewer calories are burnt and blood sugar levels go up. This consequently results in weight gain with a great deal of fat settling in the stomach. The spike in weight and blood sugar levels in turn can cause diabetes and heart problems.
2) Sore Back
The most common and immediate effect of spending too much time on a chair is soreness or pain in your back. Sitting without interruption for hours puts a great deal of pressure on the back. This pressure is made worse with poor sitting positions such as slouching over a desk or keeping the back at an unusual angle. The pressure stresses (and sometimes inflames) surrounding muscles, thereby causing compression of spinal disks and resulting in soreness that can gradually turn into chronic back pain.
Very few of us sit properly. We end up hunched over our desk instead of sitting up straight. This in turn, puts additional stress on your shoulders and back from the weight of your head shifting forward instead of being centered directly over your spine.
Staring at a computer screen for hours each day is hard on your eyes; that strain in turn can be the root cause of your daily headaches. Each hour, take a break by getting up walking around getting a drink of water to give your brain and eyes a break.
Do you notice that you are becoming progressively more tired as time goes on? It could be from sitting for extended periods of time and not exercising. If you are not challenging your body every day, it will become lethargic. Just getting up five minutes out of each hour can make a world of difference. You will feel less tired and will start sleeping better too.
If you feel tired all the time but do not engage in any strenuous activities, you are probably sitting down too much. When the body stays immobile for long stretches, it responds by slowing down bodily processes since there is no need to prepare for any real effort. This slowing down of the body leaves you feeling sluggish and tired for no apparent reason.
5) Reduced Productivity
You would think that if you are at your desk working for hours on end, your productivity would be high. Actually sitting for long period can have just the opposite effect. It can cause a type of brain fog, where you can’t focus on one thing to completion, but drift around to many things and end up at the end of the day not accomplishing any of them.
Movement pumps the brain with fresh blood and oxygen that sees a boost in the brain’s health and performance. So, when you remain seated for too long, the brain falls into a foggy state that makes it difficult to concentrate, remember things, and even recall memories.
6) Swollen Ankles
Sitting for long periods of time can result in edema in the legs due to a lack of movement. If you notice your ankles or knees are swollen at the end of the day, you need to get up more throughout your day.
One solution to combat sitting disease that is starting to take the business world by storm is standing desks. Some are even fitted with a treadmill so you can walk while working. Using a standing desk at work can be a first step at combating these six effects of sitting.
The human body is not meant to stay still for too long. When the body is underused, muscles and joints begin deteriorating and become weak and stiff. Add the fact that sitting a lot puts the upper body under undue pressure and you will soon find yourself feeling stiff in parts that were formerly very flexible. The back, glutes, and hips bear the most pressure and as such suffer the most loss in range of mobility. With poor sitting posture, the neck, shoulder, and knees will also suffer some degree of stiffness that becomes worse with time.
8) Messed up Sleeping Patterns
Physical activity throughout the day tires the body leaving it craving rest. This in turn makes it easy to fall asleep at night. However, if you spend most of your day sited, your body exerts little effort and does therefore not need much rest to recover. So, falling asleep becomes rather difficult. Sleepless nights will then see you sleeping for longer as your body tries to catch up on lost sleep. With time, sitting too much will cause a vicious cycle of sleepless nights followed by periods where you sleep too much.
While sitting too much is bad for your body and health, the good news is that it is very easy to undo the negative side effects. All you need is to develop the determination to exercise on a regular basis. As little as 30 minutes a day of physical activity (jogging, running, weight training etc.) can be enough to undo the effects of sitting down for extended periods. Following a healthy diet, practicing good sitting posture, and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking will also go a long way in helping to counteract the effects of excessive sitting.