Get Up – Why sitting is killing you
In this article we want to have a closer look at the so called sitting disease. We should admit, we all do it, sitting way too much. The society we live in makes it almost impossible to avoid spending most time on our butts. What causes do we have to consider? Are there any negative effects? We have looked at a recent study and were surprised. Read on to know which harm you cause on your health with the phenomen of the sitting disease.
The human body is not designed for sitting hours without end
The human body is designed to live an active lifestyle. Just looking at the habits of our ancestors can already teach us a lot about our natural activity levels. Our ancestors have been walking often hundreds of kilometers in a single day. These days some of us are already filled with pride about their step counter showing a 4-digit number. This is not a natural part of evolution. And it should definitely not surprise us that constantly different diseases are discovered.
Too much sitting shortens your life span
A research conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine discovered that for each hour sitting down, after the age of 25, you can deduct about 20 minutes of your life expectancy.
One study reports that if you can reduce your daily sitting time to around 3 hours per day, you can increase your life span by an additional 2 years. Interesting fact: The study reported that individuals which were watching TV for about 6 hours, reduced their life expectancy for 5 years, compared to those that were not watching TV at all.
Although those kind of studies do bring a lot of questions and doubts with them, it is still fair to say that there is an undeniable impact on your health through sitting each additional hour.
Evolutionary perspective: Where does sitting come from?
If scientists preach to us that sitting is unnatural, that humans were meant to be active and constantly run from one bush to the next one, then why do we end up sitting anyways? Maybe it is similar to the discovery of fire. It is the dosage. Sitting is not necessarily bad for us. The overall time spent in inactivity is what really seems to be harmful.
Early humans lived under constant battle of survival. It was very important for humans to build strong relationships within their groups to protect them and make them stronger against whatever nature threw at them. Some say that this is how it all started with the sitting. Social nourishing by gathering around a warm fire. And how to better do that than in actually sitting down?
You can’t undo 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise!
Now the bad news: Even regular Exercise may not be able to counteract long periods of sitting.
This one sounds pretty though, but there are many studies confirming this statement. Even though you go to your fitness studio after your 8 hour office job and give it your all, it might not help to protect you from the damage you have already caused.
This is no excuse to dump the regular gym session. After all it still has very important health benefits for you. The more, the better. Obviously keep it responsible and don’t overstrain your body either. One solution to long hours of work in the office might be to go for a height-adjustable desk.
The problem is however, keeping up the activity throughout the entire day. It is the amount of time spent in inactivity on once that is associated with different diseases.
So lets have a look at what is actually happening inside our bodies when we sit for too long
Organ Damage caused by Sitting Disease
- Heart:Blood flows slower and the muscles burn less fat when we sit and this makes it easier for fatty acids to clog the heart. For example, research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for instance, showed that women who sit for 10 or more hours a day may have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less
- Colon Cancer: Excessive sitting may increase the risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The process is not known for certain, but it could be due to excess insulin production, which facilitate cell growth, or the fact that regular movement boosts antioxidants in the body that may eliminate potentially cancer-causing free radicals
Increased risk of Sitting Disease in numbers. In 2015 a report by the Inaugural Active Working Summit released following numbers in relation to sitting:
- Lung cancer by 54 percent
- Uterine cancer by 66 percent
- Colon cancer by 30 percent
Muscle Degeneration caused by Sitting Disease
- Your hips are also affected by long periods of sitting. The muscles around your hips become unnatural tight. Especially in the older age a decrease mobility in the hip bones causes falls and instability.
- In order to stand we use our abdominal muscles. On the contrary when we sit too much these muscles become loose. Strong abdominal muscles are important to hold a straight up posture.
Posture Problems caused by Sitting Disease
- Neck and Shoulder: The repeated motion of our head when we are working on a computer all day long causes a severe overuse of the neck. It stars with suffering from a strained neck and shoulder area. The blood circulation into your body is made difficult and can cause headaches.
- Back: Your spine is under an enourmous pressure while sitting. Especially the so called Hunch Back takes a toll on your body. Make sure to regularly get up and find ways to move inbetween long hours of sitting.
Brain Damage caused by Sitting Disease
- Sitting causes your brain to be provided by only limited fresh blood flow and oxygen. This in return inhibits the release of brain enhancing chemicals. Associations between Depression and Sitting Disease is yet to be made.
Please remember, that an exercise regime may not be enough to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting.