Sitting too long is bad for your health for a number of reasons. And yet, for many of us, long hours spent driving and sitting at a desk are a part of our daily lives. We need to make a conscious effort to reverse this habit. If we don’t, we put ourselves at risk for many degenerative diseases and even early death. If you spend most of your day sitting — whether at work, at home, or in the car — this message is for you.
Sitting is the new smoking
In many health circles, it’s said that sitting is the new smoking. While this may seem extreme, the health experts may be right. More and more scientific studies are showing just how detrimental a sedentary lifestyle is for your overall health and well being. And it isn’t enough to exercise periodically. The more time you spend sitting, the greater your risk of premature death. So it’s important to find more ways to move every single day.
Standing has many health benefits
Even if you’re not sprinting, cycling, or jogging, standing up is much better for you than sitting. For starters, standing is beneficial for the internal organs. Our bodies pump blood more efficiently when we’re standing up, which makes organs more healthy. The bowels also do their waste removal job with greater efficiency.
For this reason, you may want to consider investing in a standing desk if you work from a computer. If that isn’t an option, change your workplace so that your laptop rests on a counter rather than a desk or table. Whenever you find yourself sitting, make a conscious effort to stand up intermittently. You can also practice good posture as you stand more throughout your day, which benefits your spine and prevents back problems.
Sitting promotes weight gain
A sedentary life can make it difficult to lose weight, no matter how well you eat. Holding onto excess fat is linked to a number of diseases — heart issues, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, to name a few. Sitting too long encourages that extra fat to accumulate. If you’re serious about shedding the pounds that weigh you down, you need to stand up and move.
There are so many ways to do this: Take breaks throughout your day to do a few minutes of exercise and stretching. Stand up and walk around while talking on the phone. It’s the little habits you create throughout your day to replace long stretches of sitting that will make all the difference.
Sitting promotes muscle atrophy
All of the muscles and bones in your body need you to move. Sitting too long causes your bones to become brittle and your muscles to lose their mass. This can increase your risk of falls and injuries as you age. Strong, defined muscles can help you stay healthy and flexible as you age, and the only way to get them requires anything and everything but sitting. Strength training, cardio exercises, yoga, and moving your body in natural ways supports muscle health.
Too much sitting increases mental health issues
Even your brain requires regular activity. A sedentary lifestyle has been proven to contribute to depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. Because your mind and body are so intimately connected, a healthier body makes for a healthier mind.
Given that exercise makes you happier by releasing feel-good chemicals like serotonin, this should come as no surprise. As a general rule, those who lead an active lifestyle are much happier than their sedentary counterparts. If you don’t already have a regular exercise routine, it’s time to get one.
Spinal health deteriorates
Yogis have long believed a healthy spine equals a long, healthy life. This is why they’re always backbending, forward bending, and sidebending. Having a supple spine is really good for you. It’s difficult to practice good posture when you’re sitting too long, and too much time in a chair leads to slumping and hunching. When you swap sitting for standing, you can consciously work on maintaining a long neck, spine, and lower back. As we age, our back often becomes our problem area. Standing more and stretching often will help stave off these unnecessary postural issues.
Increased risk of fatal diseases
Did you know that sitting too long increases your risk of disease? Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity — these diseases are more likely to happen to you if you lead a sedentary life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. A 2011 study found that people who sat the most had a 147% increase in cardiovascular events, and a 90% increase in death due to cardiovascular events. If you want to keep your heart healthy, it’s crucial to get up and move more!
A sedentary lifestyle shortens your life. In the study mentioned above, people who spent the most time sitting had a 49% increase in death from any cause. People who live to be 100 are generally far more active than those who die at a younger age. This means if you want to live to live a long life, you must get moving!
Being more active doesn’t necessarily mean you need to become a gym rat. The longest living people across the globe move their bodies natural ways. They walk or bike to work. They tend to a garden and chop wood to prepare for the winter. They lead a more traditional, old-world lifestyle, which means less sitting and more moving. You can move like them if you think outside the box.
Awareness is everything, so begin paying attention to how often you sit. Take mini-breaks from sitting and ask for help if you need it. Set an alarm to get up and stretch if necessary.
At SmartFit Weight Loss, we are always available to support your health. We want you to thrive in all areas of your life! We believe that long-term weight management and health optimization requires sustainable lifestyle changes. We offer personalized weight-loss plans to help you look and feel your best. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost consultation!