What Is Considered Sitting Disease
Sitting disease is a term used to refer to 34 chronic conditions that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise

Our bodies are designed to be active. However, with changes in lifestyle brought about by technological advances that make our lives easier, humans have become more and more sedentary. Sitting disease is a term used to refer to 34 chronic conditions that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise

When you sit for too long, you use less energy than when you are standing or moving. This lack of movement has been linked to various health problems, such as cognitive decline, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and even a shorter life expectancy. It is considered one of the most unexpected health threats of modern times.

Sitting disease can be especially problematic for the elderly, since the physical effects of aging can make it more challenging to stay active. Studies have reported that reducing sitting to less than 3 hours a day can increase life expectancy by as much as 2 years.

What are the risks of sitting too much?

Dangers of sitting disease include the following:

  • Sitting for long stretches can cause the large leg and gluteal muscles, which are responsible for walking and balance, to weaken. If these muscles become weak, they can lead to injuries and an increased risk of falls.
  • Sitting for a long period can cause your hip flexor muscles to shorten, which can then lead to other hip-related problems.
  • Sitting for a long time with your legs dangling can cause blood to pool in your legs, which can lead to varicose or spider veins.
  • Sitting for a long time hunched over a computer keyboard can cause pain and stiffness in your neck, back, and shoulders.
  • Long periods of sitting can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions.

What are the benefits of staying active?

Benefits of sitting less and moving more include the following:

  • Standing more can help build your energy and productivity, reduce stress, and help improve your mood.
  • Moving around boosts metabolism, tones muscles, and reduces common aches and pains.
  • Bones, like muscles, require frequent movements to maintain strength. Even low-level movements and workouts can help improve bone health.
  • Blood circulation is important to your overall health, which can be improved by physical activity that encourages blood flow.
  • Simple movements, such as standing or walking, can improve blood pressure and lower the risk of heart attack by promoting good cholesterol and lowering bad cholesterol levels.
  • Staying active can help increase the enzymes needed for good digestion.
  • Fat-burning enzymes in your body stay more activated when you are moving than when you are sitting still.

How to prevent sitting disease

Even though more research is needed to fully investigate the impact of sitting on overall health, it is clear that staying active is better for your health than sitting.

You don’t need to necessarily start a vigorous workout plan to avoid sitting disease. Here are a few simple tips to be more active throughout the day:

  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes
  • Stand or walk while talking on the phone or watching TV
  • Try a standing desk for work
  • Walk or cycle to work
  • Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator

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Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Image

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sitting Disease: How a Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Heart Health. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/sitting-disease-how-a-sedentary-lifestyle-affects-heart-health

BetterHealth. The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/the-dangers-of-sitting