At first glance, office jobs are gentle on your body. They are better than the more taxing manual jobs that make huge physical demands on the body. In a surprise revelation, research shows that office jobs are dangerous, if not worse
On average, office workers sit between 4 and 9 hours daily. That amounts to sitting 67 days in a year, and it takes a massive toll on the body.
Surprisingly, people seeking professional back pain treatment never make this connection. Besides compressing your spine, sitting for long hours endangers your entire health.
How Does Sitting Jeopardize Your Health?
It all comes down to the physiology of the human body. Human beings are built for an upright position. Your heart and the cardiovascular systems are more efficient while you’re standing. The digestive and bowels too. That’s why you’ll find bedridden patients struggling with bowel movement.
Sitting for a long time leads to a sedentary lifestyle. Habitual inactivity is associated with a host of lifestyle diseases. These conditions include diabetes, obesity, deep-vein thrombosis, heart diseases, and metabolic syndromes.
Scientists posit that long sitting spells cause the largest muscles in the body to relax. When these muscles relax, they have a lower capacity to absorb glucose from the blood. The blood sugar levels rise, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sitting for long hours, even when you’re reasonably active, affects your muscles. It leads to tight hip flexors and hamstring muscles and causes stiff joints. If these muscles are overly tight, they will affect your gait and balance.
You’ll have difficulties walking and might become prone to slip and fall accidents. Again, tight hamstrings and hip flexors may lead to knee stiffness and lower back pain.
Worse Than Smoking
Sitting for a long time also leads to metabolic syndrome. This is a cluster of health conditions that ravage and devastate the body. They include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and abdominal fat deposits.
Worse still, sitting too much increases the risk of dying from cancer and heart diseases. There’s no overstating the dangers of extended sitting. Sitting for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity is just as dangerous as smoking and obesity. You have the same risk of death as a heavy smoker or a person with obesity. But, the risk of death is lowered in people who sat for more than eight hours but mostly lead an active lifestyle.
Deteriorating Mental Health
There’s cause and effect relationship between sitting and declining mental health. People who sit for long periods are prone to anxiety and depression.
That’s because people who sit for extended periods lead a sedentary lifestyle. They are also likely to shun social interaction, leaving them without social support. Such people are often glued to their screens and spend too much time on the internet. Spending too much time on your phone can disrupt sleep and spike anxiety levels.
Blood Circulation Problems
Physical activity raises the heart rate and increases blood circulation in the body. Sitting for a long time has the opposite effect. It causes your heart rate to slow down, causing blood to pool in the lower extremities. When blood pools in the legs, it leads to spider or varicose veins. While spider veins aren’t inherently dangerous, they are unsightly. Occasionally, varicose veins lead to blood clots or deep vein thrombosis.
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the veins of the legs. This is a severe medical problem that results from sitting for too long. Parts of the blood clot often break off and cut off blood flow to the lungs. Partial blockage of the lungs by a clot leads to pulmonary embolism.
How Can You Roll Back the Effects of Too Much Sitting?
It’s never too late to push back against the adverse effect of prolonged sitting. For the most part, it doesn’t need too much effort. You only need to build more physical activities into your daily routine.
Physical activity in this context refers to any activity that entails moving around. It doesn’t call for strenuous activities such as running or working out in the gym. Ideally, you should start small and build momentum as your body adapts to the new lifestyle.
Some physical activities that you can build into your day include:
- Cycling to work
- Partially walking to your place of work
- A light morning stretching routine
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift
- Parking further away from your office
- Setting a target and counting your steps
Long sitting sessions pose a grave danger to your health and well-being. Research shows sitting can be as dangerous as smoking or being obese. Embracing an active lifestyle can counter the effects and improves your health.