The damage caused by sitting for a long time can be listed in large numbers, since a sedentary lifestyle makes us prone to suffer different damages to our health, and develop problems such as poor circulation, cramps, heart disease, digestive problems, constipation, among others.
Humans are not sedentary creatures. Our ancestors spent their days hunting, building, farming, and so on. But we have evolved. We have found ways and technologies developed to make daily life easier – something that requires less physical effort and therefore the damage caused by prolonged sitting has been increasing over time.
Why prolonged sitting causes harm?
We are living in a world built to keep us seated, all for the sake of convenience. But here’s the bad news, prolonged sitting can take years off your life. What’s worse, the damage it does to your health can never be undone with exercise.
This finding did not come from alternative science. A 2011 study which studied the health outcomes of more than 120,000 people over a 14-year period, found that men and women who sat for more than six hours a day had 20% and 40 % respectively more likely to die during the course of the study than those who sat less than three hours a day.
Studies show the damage from sitting.
This conclusion is supported by a new study which examined 47 studies looking at the relationship between physical inactivity (prolonged sitting) and mortality.
Researchers found that being sedentary increases people’s risk of contracting diseases or health conditions that can result in premature death – even exercising.
They found that people who spend their day sitting were found to have a 24% risk of premature death (usually due to type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases related to sedentary lifestyles) than they were sitting less.
The damage caused by sitting in a few minutes.
Now you may ask, what exactly does it mean that sitting ruins my body?
As soon as you sit down:
Your leg muscles are inactive. That is, all of your electrical activity is turned off. Also, the number of calories you burn is 1 every minute, and the enzymes that help your body break down fat decrease significantly at a rate of 90%.
Sitting for a long time favors bad cholesterol.
After two hours of sitting:
Good cholesterol, the fats that help eliminate bad cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins (LDL) that block and cause plaque build-up in the arteries, drop to 20%.
After 24 hours of sitting:
The effectiveness of insulin in the blood drops to 24%, which puts you at high risk for diabetes. And the bad news is that no amount of exercise can counteract the negative effects and damage of sitting longer than it should.
What is the solution?
Health experts offer a simple suggestion: take note of how long you sit and set a goal to reduce that number a little more each day.
If sitting is part of your job, give your legs and buttocks a break from standing or walking for at least a minute every half hour.