Do you Sit Most of the Day? You Could Be Causing Long-term Health Damage (Part 1)

Posted by Bethaney Wallace on 17th Feb 2014

For everyone who works in an office or has had the occasional movie marathon, you know exactly how it feels to sit for long periods at a time. While sometimes it’s a welcome break, especially when feeling under the weather, it can often bring on feelings of stiffness and laziness. Whether mentally or in muscles that tighten from a lack of movement. And as for work, it’s simply a nature of the beast. Computers have to be typed and clicked on, and without a standing desk, one must sit in order to do their jobs. Or in other words, much of the time, we simply don’t have a choice as to how often we sit throughout the day.

Unfortunately, that could also mean the onset of several medical causes. For some this comes as a surprise, but not moving can actually cause as many (or more) side effects as other unhealthy habits. The body was meant to be in motion, and a lack of movement or exercise is about as unhealthy as we can get. Though it can be hard during the workday, or in inclement weather, it’s important to get up and moving on a regular basis. And if your boss disagrees, tell them it’s for your health – theirs too

What Happens When the Body Sits Too Long?

For the average adult, sitting at least eight hours can cause a whole slew of problems. Especially when taking place on a regular basis. Including:

Organ Damage

Those who sit for too long are more likely to suffer from heart disease, an over productive pancreas, and even colon cancer.

  • Heart disease – Because sitting means less fat burned, blood will move more slowly through the body after long-term sitting. This can mean higher blood pressure and cholesterol, and even a heightened chance at developing heart disease.
  • Over-productive Pancreas – In idle muscles, insulin (produced by the pancreas) has a hard time reacting properly for digestion. If developed severely enough, this slow-moving process can lead to diabetes.
  • Colon cancer – Though the reason has yet to be determined, research has shown that eight or more hours of sitting per day is more likely to lead to colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. However, results suggest the changes come from cell growth, which is stunted without regular movement.

Weakening Muscles

When muscles aren’t being strengthened or conditioned, they’re likely working in the other direction.

  • Abs – stomach muscles need to be toned to keep their form and shape. Little movements such as standing or even sitting up straight work this midsection, but while sitting for too long, abs become soft or untrained, expanding and becoming “mushy”.
  • Tightened Hips – Hip flexors, like the abs, need to be regularly worked and stretched to better perform. When sitting, however, they can become tight, underworked, and limit the ways in which we can move. Folks with limited hip movement are more likely to fall or obtain hip-based injuries.
  • A limp rear – The glutes don’t get much workout while you’re sitting. In fact, they get none. Over time they become soft, hurting your ability to walk or run with the same amount of power or body efficiency.

Unfortunately, these side effects are an everyday cause from work, relaxing, or even feeling less than well. Whatever the circumstances, it’s always better to stretch the muscles in some form or another – whether that be taking a walk or just taking regular standing breaks.

To learn more about the side effects of sitting, stay tuned for part two, where we’ll talk about the back and brain, as well as how you can prevent these unfortunate risks.