Why Excessive Sitting is Harmful to Your Health

When you first heard the news, you couldn’t help thinking, “What’s this, some kind of conspiracy theory dreamed up by the PR team for standing-desk manufacturers?” But the “news” that prolonged sitting is bad for your health has been around for decades. Recent studies confirm the association, which means you might want to stand up and stretch right about now.

Maybe you saw the headlines and dismissed them. After all, you hit the gym every day (well, almost), plus have an active life on the weekends with your family and friends. Surely all that exercise counteracts the eight-plus hours you spend hunched over your laptop or stuck to your desk, right?

Wrong. While vigorous daily exercise has plenty of health benefits, it doesn’t compensate for the negative effects of prolonged, uninterrupted sitting.

The expert, multidisciplinary medical team at Bryn Medical in Chattanooga know how important healthy lifestyle choices are for long-term health and well-being. Here, they offer a few reasons why you might want to re-think how much time you spend parked on a chair or sofa.

Sitting makes you hungry
While it may seem counterintuitive, sitting for long periods of time without a break actually makes you hungrier than being active. Sitting, of course, burns fewer calories than working out. But vigorous exercise actually inhibits your appetite, so you don’t feel hungry during your workout or directly afterward.

Sitting is a pain
If you have neck pain or back pain, sitting may be part of the problem. Sitting down puts added pressure on the vertebrae in your lower spine. Hunching over your computer or slouching also stresses your cervical spine (otherwise known as your neck). When you’re sitting, be sure to maintain good posture to reduce the risk of spinal disc problems.

Sitting makes you depressed
No, it’s not just your job that’s getting to you. It’s sitting at your desk all day long, too. Sitting for more than six hours per day during a workday causes increased anxiety and depression. In contrast, even short bursts of exercise boost your mood with feel-good hormones.

Sitting raises your risk for … everything bad
Sitting for long periods of time raises your risk for specific types of cancer, including colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and lung cancer. The risk increased by up to 10% for every two hours of sitting time, in one study.

You also raise your risk for other health problems when you sit too much. Because sitting raises your blood pressure and slows down your metabolism, it’s been linked to everything from blood clots to heart attacks to an increased overall risk of death.

Not-sitting counteracts sitting
Now it’s time for the good news. Taking regular 5-minute breaks from sitting every half an hour undoes all the bad stuff that sitting does. Sure, you could invest in a standing desk, but taking a walk to the restroom, water cooler, or just a jog around your own office helps, too.

And don’t forget to add more activity at home. Get up and walk around during TV commercial breaks, or at the crucial midway point of your favorite drama. Walk instead of sit when you’re on the phone or writing out your grocery list.

Whether you suspect sitting too much is at the root of your chronic pain or not, changing your habits can change your life. Start with a consultation at Bryn Medical by setting up an appointment online or calling us today.

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