Take a minute now to think back on the past few days. How many hours did you spend sitting?
People who spend less time sitting tend to live longer and happier lives with lower rates of chronic illnesses.
But it’s not just the total amount of time you spend sitting that matters. Prolonged, uninterrupted sitting is particularly dangerous to your health.
Diseases and Conditions Associated With Too Much Sitting
Excessive sitting is associated with over 30 chronic illnesses, including:
- high blood pressure
- chronic pain
- musculoskeletal disorders
- type 2 diabetes
- breast and prostate cancer
- cardiovascular disease
- erectile dysfunction
Why Prolonged Sitting Is So Dangerous
There are several reasons why sitting for long periods of time is so harmful to your health.
For one, it increases your risk of weight gain and obesity. When you sit, you burn fewer calories than when you stand or move around. Additionally, prolonged sitting can affect your appetite regulation, meaning you’re more likely to snack frequently and overeat.
Excessive sitting can also cause changes in your metabolism that lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. It also puts you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Sitting for long periods of time can also lead to muscle atrophy and weakening of the bones. When your musculoskeletal system isn’t being used, it can start to deteriorate. This can lead to poor posture, stiffness, and pain.
Your nervous system also needs stimulating movement to function properly. When you sit still for too long, blood flow may not circulate as efficiently, including in your brain. You may start to feel sluggish. You may experience problems with concentration, focus, and cognitive function. And in the long-term, it can contribute to the development of depression, anxiety, and dementia.
Get Up and Walk Around More Often
The solution to this “sitting sickness” problem is fairly simple: sit less and move more.
Make an extra effort to stand up and walk around for a few minutes every hour. Set a timer on your phone or computer to remind you to take a break.
Walk around or stretch during advertisement breaks when you’re watching TV.
Don’t just replace sitting with standing still. Move around and do something active. It doesn’t need to be anything strenuous. Just a few minutes of light activity will make a big difference to your health.
Doing this can improve your metabolism, cognitive function, and musculoskeletal health. You’ll also see a reduction in your risk of chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Not only will this simple change improve your physical and mental health in the long run, but you’ll probably notice an immediate boost in your energy levels, mood, and overall sense of well-being.