Why is Sitting So bad?
As a society we generally sit down way too much! Whether it is due to our job, hobby, relaxing time or even sleeping, we all sit down more than we should.
Unfortunately, the implications of leading a sedentary lifestyle in and out of work can lead to more serious outcomes if not addressed asap.
If you are a typical ‘office worker’ and work 35-40 hours per week and sit at the desk all day then you will generally not get up much in your normal day, apart from lunch and toilet breaks. If done over a prolonged period of time , then this can lead to physical symptoms and sometimes more serious conditions.
The human body is built to move and not sit still all day. It is made up of 360 joints, over 700 muscles, 206 bones and billions of nerves. Together all these components work as a finely tuned unit to enable us to move, run, walk and perform all of our daily activities.
Blood flow in the human body is dependent on movement, allowing it to circulate properly and reach all areas of the body that require it. Nerve cells benefit from movement so they are able to communicate with the brain and muscles far easier. When we are stationary or sitting, the muscles do not get as much blood and oxygen and the nerves do not function to their optimum level. The result can sometimes be very obvious!
The spine is held together by joints, muscles and ligaments, enabling us to stand or sit upright. Sitting for prolonged periods of time in the same position can have an impact on the curvature of the spine and alter the way in which these structures function. As the person sits with their shoulders rounded and their back hunched over, the joints are compressed, the chest cavity is decreased, the muscles are stretched or overworked. This all leads to the inevitable, this being aches and pains!
The reason for this is as the spine is compressed during the poorly adopted posture, the nerves, arteries and veins are also compressed,along with the legs continuously being bent, thus reducing blood flow. The body depends on these vital structures to continue functioning automatically without any problems, therefore allowing everyday activities and exercises to be carried out successfully and pain free. Although, if this is not the case then a symptom such as swelling can appear due to the reduction of blood flow in the given region.
Eg . Sitting down in the office with legs crossed all day = can result in swelling in the ankle or numbness in the leg, calf or foot.
Weight & further complication
Sitting for long periods of time can temporarily deactivate lipoprotein lipase. This is an enzyme in the walls of capillaries that breaks down fats in the blood. If the enzyme is deactivated then the fat cells will build up and potentially cause blockages in the capillaries. This can result in a condition called Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease by which the arteries thicken due to a build up of plaque. The plaque consists of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood. The blockage in the artery can then lead to a lack of blood flow to the heart and other major organs. In serious cases this can result in a heart attack, stroke or even death.
Prolonged sitting reduces blood flow throughout the body and consequently to the brain. The brain must receive a constant supply of oxygen rich blood to keep us alive. The more we sit, the more restricted blood flow is, the less blood flow to the brain. Being alert and switched on requires a constant flow of blood to the brain, but unfortunately the lack of blood flow when sitting for long periods of time can see concentration levels dip. This can obviously have an impact on someone’s job, driving or any activity that requires a certain degree of concentration.
Lastly, to put everything into perspective, this is not a topic to take lightly and more of us should be aware of the implications of a sedentary lifestyle in and out of work. Having a basic education and education others is what will help our society to be a healthier one. Research has been published showing a link to conditions such as specific types of cancer, diabetes, liver kidney problems. So not just the simple back pain that we all moan about each day.
-Get up every 30 minutes and have a walk around and a stretch.
-Sit up straight at your desk
-Stay well hydrated
-Try and exercise for 30 minutes per day