Is sitting harming your health?
Sitting for long periods can lead to a range of symptoms that can be painful in the short-term or lead to major issues for your long-term health. It has become commonplace to spend most of our days in a seated position. Just think about how often you are sat down: at a desk, driving a car, watching TV on the sofa, sat at the dining table. We all sit a lot of the time, so it’s important to be aware of the health impacts it has, and how you can help combat them.
Glucose and insulin levels increase
A study has shown long periods of sitting down leads to increased blood sugar levels. Long-term this can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Further to this, the body slows production of an enzyme which helps break down fat by up to 90% after extended sitting. The resulting weight-gain, combined with higher blood sugar could have a serious impact on your lifelong health.
Risk of back pain
Sitting for long periods, especially with bad posture can be very bad for the vertebral discs in your back. Sitting puts more pressure on them compared to standing and if you are sitting at awkward angles this can put uneven pressure on your discs, causing their structure to break down over time. This could lead to lower back pain, and even a slipped disc. Taking time to stand will relieve the pressure on the disc, allowing them to recover.
If you are inactive for long periods of time, your metabolic rate lowers. This means you will burn fewer calories whilst at rest. As your body is burning fewer calories there is a risk of weight gain in the long-term. Make time for short bursts of exercise that target the main muscle groups in the legs. Perhaps you could fit in a set of lunges or squats. Your metabolic rate will be increased after you have finished the exercise, which will give you even more benefit.
Affects muscles and joints in the body
When you sit, some muscles are held in a shortened position, and some are lengthened. If you think about your hips, the muscles at the front are shortened, and the muscles at the back are held in a lengthened position. Over time this can actually lead to a permanent condition for your muscles, affecting your posture in the long term. Make sure you stand up and move around regularly to stretch these muscles out and prevent this from happening.
What you can do
If you have to sit down for long periods, the best thing you can do is break it up with stretching and exercise. Try to stand up every half hour to wake up your legs and get the circulation flowing. If you have developed a muscular issue due to extended sitting, then please contact us to book an appointment. You can book an osteopathy treatment or a sports massage to help stretch out those joints and muscles.