The Medical Hazards of Sitting Too Often (Part 2)

Posted by Bethaney Wallace on 17th Feb 2014

This post is a continuation from Do you Sit Most of the Day? You Could Be Causing Long-term Health Damage

In our last post, we discussed some of the dangers that can come from sitting for too many hours of the day. Including weakened muscles, a greater chance at certain diseases, etc. And how each of them is caused by perching on your rear for too many hours in a day, whether from vegging out or working from a desk. The latter of which can turn into a necessary evil, especially when taken on for years at a time. But unfortunately, those side effects listed in the previous article aren’t the only dangers that long-term sitting can cause. In this segment we’ll sort out even further medical hazards that can take place from a lack of movement and sitting for long periods of time.

What Sitting Can do to the Legs

  • Though not directly supporting weight while sitting, legs can take on a brunt of problems. By being inactive – especially for limbs meant to carry the body’s weight – issues arise simply from staying still.
  • Poor circulation – Without movement, legs can develop circulation issues; they need regular stretching or movement, or the blood flows much more slowly. This can cause fluid to pool in different parts of the legs, which could lead to swollen ankles, varicose veins, or even serious blood clots.
  • Soft bones – When bones and joints hold your weight, it allows them to grow stronger in a number of ways. Without walking, running, stretching, etc. throughout the day, leg/foot bones and hips can’t get the workouts they need in order to stay healthy.

Mortality Rate Increases with Sitting Hours

In perhaps its most dramatic statistic yet, those who watch the most TV have a higher chance at death, especially when the activity is repeated over time. Assuming folks are sitting to tune in, those who watched the highest amount of TV in eight-and-a-half years, were slated to have a 61% larger risk of dying. This study is in contrast to those who watch less than one hour of television per day. It also showed that the two are directly linked, as percentage increased gradually with hours of programs viewed. For instance, three to four hours left folks with a 14% higher percentage at death, and those who viewed five to six hours per day with a 31% higher chance.

The Spine

The back and its respective bones, the ones holding us upright, are perhaps the most affected by long-term sitting.

  • Strained neck – when working at a desk, the neck must be pointed in a constant direction, muscles tighten, tense, and develop pains. This also takes place when cradling a phone between ear and shoulder.
  • Sore shoulders and back – slumping our slouching at a desk overextends the shoulders and back muscles. This takes place where the neck and shoulders meet, causing pains and oddly developed muscles.
  • Tight spine – Moving allows the discs between each vertebrae to move and take in blood and other vitamins. When sitting, however, those discs don’t receive the same amount of nutrients and aren’t evenly worked.
  • Disk damage – Spending more time on your rear means you’re far more likely to suffer from herniated lumbar disks. Without standing upright, weight is placed differently on the spine and the lower back.

The Brain

  • Hazy thoughts – movement allows blood and oxygen to be pumped throughout the body, especially the brain. This releases chemicals that improve one’s mood and brain function. Without that movement, however, that function slows greatly.

When the body doesn’t get the movement it deserves, it’s felt all throughout the body. Stay tuned next week to see how you can reduce these health hazards throughout the day, even when sitting can be a necessity.