When you think of dangerous activities, you may think of smoking and riding motorcycles. But what if we said sitting down is part of this list?
You may know of the detriment long hours of sitting can have on your health. Unfortunately, more people are going through a sedentary life without this knowledge.
One study shows sitting for excessively long periods can increase your risk of an early death. Those who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have a lower risk of an early demise.
It seems sitting is the new smoking.
This is partly why the government created physical activity guidelines. However, the guide only states that adults should perform a moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes per week.
What we need is a more thorough activity plan that details how often a person should move.
Let’s review how sitting is the new smoking.
How Sitting is the New Smoking
The human body is designed to be consistently active. If you look in ancient history, you’ll find that many cultures were farmers, hunters, and gatherers. This meant lots of physical activity to maintain their lives.
Today, however, you’ll find most people sit the majority of the day. This is partly due to their work environments and home lifestyle. Those who work a desk job or other sedentary position spend at least 8 hours of their day sitting.
Then they sit in a car on the way home, then sit some more in front of a television and at the table (or couch) to eat. Altogether, most adults are sitting between 9 and 10 waking hours per day.
Even hour-long workouts are ineffective in improving your health when you sit for many hours per day. Like with medications, sitting isn’t what’s dangerous – it’s the dose.
Overdosing on sitting is a big mistake for a number of reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the side effects.
Damage to Your Organs
One of the reasons sitting is the new smoking is that it can lead to organ damage. Here’s a review of the different ways sitting long hours can negatively affect your organs.
Your heart is a muscle, which requires cardio activity to keep healthy. When you’re sitting most of the day, it slows down your blood flow and disables your muscles from burning fat. This makes it easier for fatty acids to clog up your heart.
Women who sit 10+ hours daily are at a higher risk of heart disease compared to women who only sit five hours or less daily.
The purpose of your pancreas is to maintain proper insulin levels in your blood. When your pancreas fails, your insulin levels increase significantly, putting you at risk of diabetes.
If you’re sitting for long periods of time each day, you’re at a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Sitting 8+ hours daily increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 90%.
Then there’s the risk of developing colon, endometrial and breast cancers. It’s not certain why this happens, but some experts believe it’s due to excess insulin.
Here’s a look at the prevalence of cancer in folks who sit for extended periods of time:
- 54% increase in lung cancer
- 66% increase in uterine cancer
- 30% increase in colon cancer
Cancer alone should be enough to deter anyone from sitting too long. Constant movement and a healthy diet are key to cancer prevention.
We all know how inactivity can mess up your metabolism. It’s no surprise that extended periods of sitting can also damage your digestion. When you sit down after eating, it leads to compression of the contents of your stomach.
This slows down digestion, which can cause bloating, heartburn, constipation, and cramping.
Sedentary lifestyles can also mess up your brain function. It slows it down after a while, which means less fresh oxygen and blood to your brain.
You need both in order to trigger the release of chemicals that enhance your brain and mood.
Sitting Long Periods and Posture Problems
It’s common knowledge that sitting the wrong way for many hours can lead to posture issues. This inevitably leads to issues in your shoulders, neck, and spine.
In most cases, this is due to sitting in the wrong chair and looking at a screen that’s too low. In this position, your spine has a lot of pressure in the lumbar region and your neck becomes hooked shape as you stoop forward to view your monitor.
This is why you should have an ergonomic office setup. An ergonomic setup should have the following:
- A chair with lumbar support and multiple recline and incline settings
- A monitor that’s at eye level
- A keyboard with a cushion to prevent pressure to the wrists (leading to carpal tunnel syndrome)
How to Sit Smarter
Unfortunately, most people today are forced to sit many hours per day, due to their work positions. Thankfully, there are solutions to this problem.
For instance, you can set a timer on your smartphone to notify you every 10 to 15 minutes to stand and walk around. The idea is to stand up as much as possible. This is why you’ll find some offices adopting stand up desks and sit-stand desks that allow you to go from sitting to standing without disrupting work.
Then there are two methods you can use to elongate your spine: stack sitting and stretch sitting.
Sitting is the New Smoking, But Don’t Let it Kill Your Business
You’re a business owner, which means you’re always on the go. This means you’re less at risk of the ill effects of sitting. But what about your employees?
It’s important to create a work environment that’s healthy for everyone. The healthier your workplace, the more productive it will be.
And this is key to ensuring your business is afloat. But what’s also needed is a quality plan to consistently draw in new hot leads. This is where we come in.