Does your job require you to sit on your work station for long periods of time? If yes, it’s time you get worried about it and take steps to interrupt your prolonged sitting sessions with some sort of physical activity, even as small an activity as a two-minute walking per hour will benefit.
“It’s not just sitting in front of the TV that is harmful. One should be wary of any extended sitting.
Any prolonged sitting is harmful,” says Dr Rajneesh Kapoor, senior interventional cardiologist, Medanta Medicity, Gurgaon, “and it causes a number of health problems”.
“Studies show that even daily work out session cannot replace the damage prolonged sitting does to your body,” he adds.
Perils of prolonged sitting
Strained neck, sour shoulders: When you work for long hours on computer sitting on your desk, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.
Back Problems: Sitting puts a lot of pressure on the spine than standing. Back is hit worst when you are sitting hunched in front of a computer. According to a study, of all the patients of back pain, over 40 per cent are the ones who spend long hours on computers.
When you are sitting for long, the abdominal muscles remain unused, leading to weak abdominals.
Hip Problems: Prolonged sitting makes hips tight and limited in range of motion because they are not being extended.
Varicose Veins: Sitting leads to poor circulation in the legs which can cause swelling in ankles, varicose veins and blood clots.
Weak Bones: Lack of activity makes bones weak and may lead to osteoporosis. Walking, running, and engaging in other weight-bearing activities lead to stronger, denser bones.
Heart diseases: Prolonged sitting is linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. People with the sedentary lifestyle are twice as likely to have heart diseases as compared to others.
Diabetes: Pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases.
Obesity: Sitting puts your metabolism to sleep. Even an hour of daily exercise cannot counteract the negative health effects of sitting.
Cancer: Excessive sitting may increase the risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The mechanism isn’t known for certain, but it could be due to excess insulin production, which encourages cell growth. On the other hand regular movement boosts antioxidants in the body that eliminate potentially cancer-causing free radicals.
Digestion: Sitting down after you’ve eaten causes your abdominal contents to compress, slowing down digestion. This, in turn, can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation etc.
The brain function slows down when the body is at rest for too long. During sitting the brain gets less fresh blood and oxygen, which are needed to trigger the release of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals.
The impact of movement, even leisurely one, is profound. You burn more calories and the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement triggers important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body.