Sitting for Hours: The Hidden Perils and How to Conquer Them

If you work in an office, chances are you spend long hours sitting. This prolonged sitting can lead to neck and lower back pain, as well as other health and psychological issues. It’s crucial to be aware of the impact that sedentary work can have on your overall well-being.

Harmful effects of sitting for long hours 

Whether you sit for a long time to work in front of the computer screen, or whether you sit for long hours to relax in front of the TV screen, in both cases you will suffer from a set of problems that begin with a noticeable weight gain and end with negative effects on mental health. 

The “sedentary” lifestyle that many people adopt in the modern era is classified as a global epidemic, as sitting for long hours is often accompanied by a general weakness in physical activity. Few of us try to compensate for long hours of sitting by exercising daily. 

As a result, our leg muscles gradually begin to weaken, and as the largest muscles in our body, the lack of blood flow to them affects the secretion of substances that break down fatty acids in our blood.

As a result, metabolism slows down and blood sugar regulation is affected. These metabolic changes lead to increased sugar and cholesterol in the bloodstream, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

Harmful effects of sitting

How does sitting affect brain health?

Although previous studies have been done on the effect of exercise on the brain, there is little research on the relationship between sedentary activity and the risk of dementia. So, researchers at UCLA sought to discover how inactivity affects brain health, especially areas of the brain that are important in memory formation.

In this recent preliminary study, scientists found that spending more time sitting is linked to thinning of the brain’s medial temporal lobe. (It is an important area for memory formation ).

The team focused on the medial temporal lobe; Because this area of ​​the brain declines with age; Which leads to poor memory. According to the researchers, it is important to note that physical activity was insufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for long periods.

Improve your overall health

Things like increasing the amount of time you exercise and standing up to walk around can improve your overall health and reduce the risks caused by sitting for long hours.

Standing more may help you live a healthier, disease-free life. It may also help prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. If you sit for long hours in front of a computer screen, be sure to stand up from time to time to move your legs and increase blood flow to them. You can take a quick break to make a cup of tea or walk for a few minutes in the hall. the desk. This may seem simple, but it is important in reducing the damage caused by sitting for long hours. 

In a Finnish study by the Turku Center and the UKK Institute, researchers investigated the links between insulin resistance and physical activity in adults who sit for long hours and have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Studies have revealed a positive correlation between standing and improved insulin sensitivity. This highlights the significance of substituting sitting with standing, particularly when physical activity is limited. Experts advise alternating between sitting and standing positions for optimal health benefits during work.

How do we reduce the risks of sitting? 

How do we reduce the risks of sitting

We may be aware of the range of health benefits we can get from exercise, but these benefits should always be kept in mind, especially if your job requires sitting for long periods. 

Many of us do not exercise; Because they are very busy and cannot allocate an hour a day to go to the gym, but we must know that exercising does not necessarily mean going to gyms, and it does not have to take a full hour a day. 

It is important to ensure that your body moves daily. You can do simple exercises at home, walk around for half an hour, or you can even follow simple tricks to overcome long hours of sitting, for example: 

Move three minutes every 30 minutes

A study published at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm looked at what would happen if office workers stopped sitting for three weeks at their workplace. 

The results showed that volunteers who were standing and moving while working showed lower blood sugar levels during the early morning hours, which means their bodies better control blood sugar during the night.

These improvements were not huge, just minor. The researchers concluded that walking at least 15 steps or moving three minutes every half hour could be the minimum of what you should do daily while you are in the office, or sitting in front of the computer at home.  

Simple ways to add movement to your daily life

A growing body of evidence suggests that sitting for long hours can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other diseases that negatively affect your brain health.

Here are some ways you can add more movement to your daily routine:

  • Park your car away from the store entrance in the parking lot.
  • Walk around the house during the duration of each ad that appears on the screen while watching TV.
  • Make going to the park part of your daily routine.
  • Instead of using the elevator, use the stairs.
  • Stand up and do a set of simple exercises when you discover that you have been sitting for a long time. 
  • When you receive a phone call, walk around instead of talking while sitting.
  • Walk on your lunch break.
  • Do some daily morning exercises.
  • Participate in cleaning the house as part of daily physical activity.
  • Use a fitness tracker, or apps that tell you your daily physical activity rate.

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