When scientists performed a comparison of transit drivers with conductors and guards, they discovered that the former were twice as likely to get heart diseases. Other studies further confirmed the fact that people are more likely to die earlier if they sit for long stretches at a time. Regardless of whether you visit the gym every day or not, too much sitting for extended periods throughout the day can turn out to be quite lethal for you. However, with very few changes you can turn things around into your favor and enjoy a healthier life as well.
Why is Sitting Bad For You?
So, while it is considered a form of resting, why is sitting bad for you? Why is it that even despite working out for more than the recommended hours in a week you’re still putting your health at risk if you sit too much? Well, the new science of sedentary physiology brings us an old tale of caution. It describes humans as being ill-equipped for leisure regardless of how much we might yearn for it. The fact is that evolution has crafted a human being that excels at solving problems and meeting challenges. This is why we feel best when we are pushed to our limits to achieve a goal. Too much sitting has way too many proven health risks associated with it for it not to be taken seriously anymore. However, this raises the question that must also be on your mind by now.
How Much Sitting Is Too Much?
While there is plenty of information on all the diseases and side effects of sitting too much, we haven’t been able to pin down an exact estimate of just how much sitting is too much. However, it is clear that going even as little as an hour a day sitting without any exertion will start affecting your wellbeing. Prolonged sitting cannot be fully avoided, especially for those of us who work behind a desk all day.
However, there’s much you can do to counter that:
- Take a two-minute break every 30 minutes
- Stand while you’re on the phone or watching television
- Replace your desk with a height adjustable desk that lets you stand while you work
- Standing or walking for a minimum of 2 hours a day
So, instead of spending most of the day sitting, if only parts of it were to be replaced with standing would that have positive effects? Is standing better than sitting?
Comparing Health Risks of Standing vs. Sitting
While sitting might be more comfortable, it isn’t the healthiest option when compared to standing. The health risks that belong to prolonged sitting throughout a day alone make a strong case for replacing parts of your total sitting time in a day with standing. The fact is that while sitting one does not burn any calories. This sedentary behavior vastly increases the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and so many other health issues. While standing for long periods obviously isn’t possible, but with the use of desk riser, you can alternate between sitting and standing poses during your workday. The benefits of standing vs. sitting are one of the main reasons why standing desks have gained popularity as well. Scientists claim that you should aim for an ideal standing/walking time of 4 hours a day if you don’t incorporate any other physical activity in your routine to counter the effects of prolonged sitting.
Health Risks of Sitting At a Desk All Day
The health risks of sitting too much are numerous. To start with, prolonged sitting is bad for your heart and increases the chances of heart diseases significantly. It shortens your life span and even increases the chances of dementia by raising your risk of heart diseases, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which play a role in the condition. Prolonged sitting may also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Spending in a chair up to 7 hours at a time will even have the effect of reversing the positive effect of all those hours at the gym. Apart from raising your chances of diabetes, it can also result in DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis, which is a clot that can form in your leg from sitting too still for extended periods. The clot can break free at times and lodge in your lung, which can make things quite serious. Apart from all this, prolonged sitting will also result in weight gain, and destroy your back, especially if you’re not sitting properly. It is clear that sitting and health don’t really go hand in hand.
So, Is Standing Better Than Sitting?
Is standing good for you? If we look at the benefits of standing vs. sitting, we can conclude that while standing might be more tiring, it is definitely better than prolonged sitting. You stay more active, burn more calories and even enjoy the benefits of improved blood flow. One issue that surfaces here are standing desk users suffering from foot pain, back pain, and muscle and joint issues as well resulting from standing too long. However, this can be easily countered with the help of a mat. The best anti-fatigue mats do an excellent job of cushioning the feet, energizing the legs and enabling users to enjoy maximum benefits of working while standing.
Sitting too much for prolonged periods is bad for you and gets even worse if your routine is devoid of any physical activity at all. A good way to eliminate extensive sitting from your day is to replace it with standing. While you work, use the phone, hold a meeting with a colleague, by adding even two hours of standing/walking in your day you can take a step in the right direction and reduce the health risks that arise from prolonged sitting.