The Sitting Epidemic
The sitting epidemic, sometimes called the sitting disease, is linked to the rise in sedentary behaviour, which refers to prolonged periods of sitting or lying down while awake. Essentially, such habits require minimal energy levels. Did you know that sitting for extended periods is linked to certain health risks?
People who adopt a sedentary lifestyle have a high mortality risk from ailments such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Scary, right? It’s easy to believe that taking time out to hit the gym weekly will compensate for this. However, studies reveal that the consequences of the sitting disease are distinct from those linked to lack of exercise.
Many people spend several hours sitting throughout the day. Whether that’s sitting in front of a laptop for work and online classes, sitting during office meetings, sitting to watch television or a combination of all these. The fact is, the sitting epidemic is doing major damage to our health as a society.
The Risks of Prolonged Sitting
Sitting for extended periods poses serious health risks. Research has shown that it is linked to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and deep vein thrombosis. Your cardiovascular system works effectively when you’re upright and moving compared to prolonged periods of dormancy and low energy. Even in cases where people share similar lifestyle habits, those who sit more are at a greater risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Also, their mortality rate is increased by a whopping 50%!
Cases of depression and anxiety are also linked to the sitting epidemic. On one hand, an increase in movement or physical activity translates to better overall vitality and mental health. On the other hand, prolonged periods of sitting could lead to a higher risk of mental health problems.
This shows that the risks of sedentary behaviour extend beyond just those on the physical plane. If we want to reduce the risks of mental health concerns, perhaps we should begin to consider more daily movement.
One of the most prominent and visible effects of prolonged sitting is body pain. This can show up as neck pains, back pains and spine injuries. Naturally, our bodies require a good dose of movement. When we deny our bodies this, we risk nursing cases of neck, back and spine injuries.
Have you ever experienced pain after spending hours hunched over a computer screen? Prolonged sitting puts stress on your spine and back muscles. Back and spine pains are major concerns that people see chiropractors for. As a society, we spend too much of the day sitting. It’s time to get up and move.
Other health challenges that can be linked to extended periods of sitting include obesity, high blood pressure, brain fog and elevated cholesterol. Just two hours of sitting can drop your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, otherwise known as good cholesterol, by 20%. High levels of this good cholesterol can lower the chances of heart diseases.
To tackle the dangers of the sitting epidemic, we need to start incorporating movement into our daily habits.
How We Can Tackle This: Ways to Move More
By now, you should understand the dangers of extended periods of sitting. You might be wondering; “how do I take a stand against this?”
The answer lies in movement.
The truth is, you don’t need to jump into high-impact exercises or signing up for a gym membership. By taking the step to commit to short movement breaks, you’ll be making a huge difference in your life.
Below, we’ve highlighted some ways you can begin to make changes. These are simple and straightforward tips to get you moving.
- Stand up to stretch every 30 minutes. If you’re watching television or working on your computer, for instance, you can set reminders to get up and move. This could entail walking around or simply stretching your body.
- Within office spaces, standing desks and walking meetings should become the norm. This will boost the overall health and wellbeing of employees. We spend ridiculous amounts of hours sitting in meetings and this has a significant impact on our health.
- When sitting, pay attention to your posture. Of course, it’s not possible to completely eliminate the need to sit. However, it’s important to sit properly whenever we do. Have your feet flat on the ground, back upright and straight, and your screen at eye-level. Remember to keep your shoulders and back relaxed.
- Incorporate daily yoga practices into your life. This could be part of your morning, mid-day or night-time routines. There are yoga poses that target specific issues such as back pain and posture. In today’s world, we’re surrounded by a plethora of information online. So, why not check out something new on YouTube, Pinterest or Google? Try this out with family or friends to make it into a fun healthy routine.
- If you have quick nearby errands you need to run, why not take a walk to the location instead of taking the car? This helps to get your muscles and body moving. Consequently, it’ll help to improve your health and wellbeing. You can also use a health application to monitor your daily steps. There are several step challenges you can partake in – interestingly, many offices are taking this up!
- Make use of an exercise ball. Depending on the activity you’re engaged in, you can opt for an exercise ball rather than using a regular chair. This is an easy way to get your body moving.
Benefits of Movement
Below are some of the benefits you enjoy from more moving and less sitting:
- Better productivity, concentration and improved thinking
- Lower stress levels
- Lower risks of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart diseases
- Strengthened muscles and bones
- Weight management
Movement is something we need to take more seriously. All those extended periods of sitting time are doing more harm than good to us. By incorporating simple daily changes, you’re on your way to a healthier and happier life.
If you’re looking for professional support, you can search our site for your local UCA registered chiropractor who’ll assess your lifestyle and provide the necessary support to build and maintain a healthy life.