Health Effects of Sitting for Long Periods of Time and How to Avoid ThemHealth Effects of Sitting for Long Periods of Time and How to Avoid Them

Do you spend a considerable part of the day sitting down? Do you have a desk job? Do you spend hours sitting in front of the TV? Do you generally spend less time moving than sitting? If yes, this is extremely bad for your health. As much as we want you to earn a living and relax after a long stressful day, we also want you to be alive to enjoy your hard earned money and in great health.

Sitting for extended periods however, isn’t going to help. Here’s why: According to numerous studies, people who sit for at least 5 hours at a stretch are likely to develop heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and possibly breast, endometrial and colon cancers.

In the case of cardiovascular diseases, heart disease and elevated cholesterol, these happen because to put it simply, there is insufficient blood flow, reduced fat burning and the tendency of fatty acids to clog the arteries. These clogs can often result in one or more of the abovementioned diseases.

As for diabetes and its connection to sitting for long periods, research has shown that regardless of whether individuals are active or not, the pancreas keeps producing insulin. In the active individual, the insulin is delivered to the cells which use them up, while in the inactive individual, the idle muscular cells don’t use up the insulin. As a result, the pancreas is overworked and stops functioning maximally. This is what causes diabetes.

As for the colon, breast and endometrial cancers, the theory is that excess insulin triggers abnormal cell growth in these parts of the body, which in turn cause cancer. While these haven’t been proven, a wise individual would do well not to wait until they are diagnosed of cancer.

Other direct or indirect health effects include muscle degeneration – you know how they say what you don’t use, you lose, right? – Poor circulation, tight hips, weak erections, poor sexual performance, soft bones, sore shoulders and back, strained neck, rigid and bent spine, foggy brain, weight gain, constant fatigue, general weakness and in extreme cases. Bottom line, your body goes into a near-shutdown state. Scary, isn’t it?

What Can You Do to Mitigate and Reduce the Risks?

Luckily, there’s hope. Studies have shown that moving for 15-30 minutes every day can have significant impact on these health conditions. Moving arouses the body from the near-shutdown state to the state of activity required to keep the cells healthy and blood flow steady. Doing something as simple as walking 30 minutes every day will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Here are few things you can start doing today in addition to walking:

  • Stand up once an hour and walk around for about 5 minutes. If you’re too busy, do that once in 2 hours.
  • If you’re watching TV, stand up and move around during the commercials.
  • Park 15-30 minutes away from the office and walk to and from the office every day to your car.
  • Unless you live in a dangerous neighborhood, walk to the department store or the farmer’s market if it’s a mere 10-20 minute walk.
  • Start running 15-30 minutes a day 3-4 days a week.
  • If you can, try using a standing or walking desk.
  • Buy a treadmill. Studies have shown that individuals with treadmills are generally in better health than those without.
  • Adopt a healthy eating lifestyle.

Finally, if there’s anything like the fountain of youth, its source is in exercising. Studies have shown that doing something as simple as standing up for 3-5 minutes is enough to trigger increased blood flow, fat burning and the processes that result in the breakdown of sugars and fat. So, do the smart thing today; right now! Start exercising and moving around. It’ll probably save your life.

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