How to counteract the health effects of prolonged sitting all day
- 1 Minute Read
Are there adverse health effects of prolonged sitting? Yes, evidence shows that sitting for hours every day makes weight control and health maintenance much more difficult.
We live in a world of sitting: in cars, buses, planes, trains, subways, desks, waiting rooms, in front of the TV, while playing computer games, and at entertainment venues. Even people who exercise every day spend most of the day sitting.
The effects of prolonged sitting include low back pain, nerve impingement, and disc degeneration, especially if you sit in an unnatural posture, compressing the spine. Spine compression increases pain throughout the back, neck, shoulders, hips, and legs.
Sitting all day also affects weight management. Standing more increases calorie burning and improves health. A study looking at over 5,000 adults found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day had 62% higher odds of obesity. Another study of over 10,000 people found that longer sitting time was associated with increased abdominal fat. One study about the effects of prolonged sitting on health showed that reduced sitting markedly improved insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
The good news is that standing is simple-no special exercise clothes or shoes or gym membership needed. You could get a standing desk or just stand up more often.
Try standing for brief increments throughout the day when it fits your activity. These activities work into almost anyone's everyday life.
You can also break up time spent sitting by getting up to stand or move around at least every 30 minutes. You could set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and move or follow your smartwatch's suggestion.
While standing more is a good idea, it doesn't replace exercise. Vigorous, heart-pumping, muscle-building physical activity is also essential for weight management and general fitness. The best plan to counteract sitting all day and manage your weight is finding ways to stand up more while doing normal daily activities and sticking to a daily exercise plan.
Adapted from original content by Donna Feldman, MS, RDN
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