Meta: Do you stay glued to the screen for hours? It’s time you start moving. Read on to learn about sitting disease and how much is too much.
It’s no news that our level of activity has dropped drastically over the last few decades. With new technology making a foray into our lives, the need to move has hit its lowest. What does it mean for your health? It’s bad, if not the worst. In fact, there is a wealth of research that links prolonged sitting to a number of health problems. For example, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even depression. Not to forget how bad posture during long hours of sitting can cause pain or problems with movement. In any case, sitting disease causes a marked increase in the risk of death irrespective of the cause.
What Is Sitting Disease?
In fact, sitting disease is not a separate disease in itself. Rather, it refers to the increased risk of other diseases that result due to excessively long hours of sitting. Remember this is in contrast to too little activity where a person does minimal physical work.
Put it simply, too much sitting makes you prone to getting many diseases, most notably, metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of disorders that include at least three of the following conditions:
- High waist to hip ratio
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased blood glucose
- High blood levels of fats that include cholesterol or triglycerides or both
What Are the Effects of Sitting Disease?
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, watching television for 7 hours or more in a day causes a significant increase in the risk of death. On the other hand, the risk dips as the viewing time reduces to less than an hour per day.
You should understand that negative health effects could arise not only due to excessive television watching. Any habit that makes you inactive could be the culprit.
To make things worse, moderate to intense physical activity does not seem to fully compensate for the damages caused by the sitting disease.
Below are some disease-specific risks that rise when you sit for a long duration.
- Sitting time and risk of heart attack. The risk of heart attack almost doubles when the sitting time goes up from 6 hours or less to 10 hours or more per day.
- The risk of obesity. The link between sitting time and obesity is somewhat bidirectional. That said, obesity could make you sit more or vice versa. Before moving to any conclusion, you should understand that a combination of factors could make you fat. For example, genetics, foods habits, socioeconomic status, and race. Thus, the link is more complicated than you think. Nonetheless, it does not take away the fact that sitting for long hours can add inches to your waist.
- Sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure. According to a WHO report, sedentary lifestyle doubles the risk of high blood pressure. Likewise, being inactive also increases other risk factors that might elevate the blood pressure. For example, obesity, high levels of fats in the blood and unhealthy food habits.
- Inactivity and diabetes. There is no denying that physical inactivity is strongly associated with an increasing risk of diabetes type 2. Studies also suggest the risk increases by three folds when you spend more than 40 hours in front of the monitor compared to less than 1 hour per week.
- Prolonged sitting and cancer. Sitting for long hours as a leisure activity or a part of your profession could also make you more likely to getStudy suggests a strong link between sedentary behavior and increased risk of colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, and prostate cancer risk. Also, the researchers found women who are inactive and have cancer are more likely to die compared to those who have cancer but are active.
- Too much sitting and depression. Can you be depressed just by sitting for too long? Possibly. Studies now suggest an association between physical inactivity and likelihood of mental disorders like depression and anxiety. In fact, the WHO report suggests the risk of mental illnesses is twice in those who are inactive on most days of the week.
Know the Elements of Posture If You Have to Sit Too Much at Work
A bad posture for prolonged duration can lead to a number of physical problems. They include strained neck, back pain, decreased spine flexibility and damages to the disk.
To make yourself resistant to such effects of sitting disease, you may do the following:
- Sit with your back straight and do not lean forward.
- Keep the shoulders relaxed.
- Bend elbows at 90 degrees.
- Keep arms close to the body as much as possible.
- Do not bend your legs and make sure to the feet are flat on the floor.
How Much Inactivity Leads to Sitting Disease?
There are no standard criteria to define sitting disease. Nonetheless, many researchers agree that you should stand at least 2 hours each day at work. Meaning, if you have to work for 8 hours a day, spend 2 hours standing while you may spend the remaining 6 hours sitting. In another case, if work hours are long, you may extend the standing duration to up to 4 hours each day.
If you have a chronic disease of the muscle or joint, talk to your doctor to know how much sitting time is right for you.
Want To Know More?
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