Have you ever wondered if there are really any health risks that come from prolonged sitting? In this article, we’ll go into more detail about the potential dangers of sitting too long.
We can’t get away from it!
Whether it’s working at a computer, sitting on the couch watching TV, or driving in a car, most Americans spend a majority of their day sitting. Surely our bodies weren’t designed for sitting all day, so what is it doing to our health?
Effects of sitting too long
It’s definitely well known that sitting too long can cause problems with our posture. This includes, but is not limited to: tight hip flexors, rounded upper back (thoracic kyphosis), and lower back pain.
However, there have been many recent claims that sitting too long can affect much more than just our posture. The claims include things such as:
- Heart disease
- Blood clots
- Increased risk of premature death
Is there any truth behind these claims or are they just speculation? Let’s take a look at each one and the studies behind them.
Sitting and heart disease
This study states that only extremely long periods of sitting are likely to lead to increased risk of heart disease. Most of us aren’t sitting for 10 hours a day or more, but if you are close to that number, you should definitely consider breaking up your sitting time or reduce the time your spend sitting altogether.
Blood clots from sitting too long
There have been a few cases in which people have developed blood clots in their legs and attributed it to sitting. However, there haven’t been any studies that actually confirm that sitting too long can cause blood clots.
If you are concerned about this, then it’s definitely a good idea to take small breaks from sitting and move around to get the blood flowing.
Diabetes from sitting too long
This study concludes that any form of inactivity, including sitting, is going to put you at an increased risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes has been on the rise lately, perhaps that’s due to our major rise in inactivity.
Risk of dying earlier from sitting
This study done on over 90,000 women shows that those who were more sedentary than others were more likely to die earlier from any cause than those who were more active.
So, the claim that sitting too long will kill you isn’t completely true, but not a complete lie either. The act of sitting isn’t what kills you, it’s being inactive.
How to sit properly
Since most of us are actually required to sit in our daily lives, it’s important to be aware of how to sit properly. Doing so will decrease your chances of developing poor posture, which can cause all kinds of muscle imbalances and joint pains.
In order to sit in your chair properly and maintain proper posture, you should follow these guidelines:
- Sit upright – Allow your spine to stay in its natural curvature.
- Your head should be in a neutral position, not looking too far up or down.
- Hips should be at approximately a 90 degree angle. Distribute the weight evenly on your glutes and hamstrings.
- Your legs should form a 90 degree angle as well. Keep your feet flat and distribute your weight evenly between them.
By following these guidelines, you should be able to prevent ruining your posture and creating a “hunchback” or developing any lower back pains.
Also, if you are in a situation where you have to use a phone for a prolonged period of time, consider using a headset or headphones as opposed to holding the phone with your shoulder.
Sitting for too long can definitely have some impacts on your health, but it’s not quite as extreme as many claim. The phrase “sitting is the new smoking” is definitely blowing it out of proportion.
While it’s certainly impossible to completely eliminate sitting from your lifestyle, lack of movement and exercise is going to be the number one cause of many health problems. We should all strive to become more active, especially those who spend a majority of their day sitting. It wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of corrective stretching and strengthening exercises either.
What are your thoughts on sitting for too long? What steps are you taking in order to increase your daily activity?