More than half of us spend over six hours sitting down every day. Sitting for too long can have short and long-term effects on your health and body, making this seemingly benign activity potentially deadly. Sitting for too long can be damaging to your health. According to Anna Schaefer on Healthline, these are some health hazards of sitting for a long time.
1. Weak legs and glutes
If you don’t use your legs and glutes, you lose them. By sitting all day, you’re not depending on your powerful lower body muscles to hold you up. This leads to muscle atrophy, which is the weakening of these muscles. Without strong leg and glute muscles to stabilize you, your body is at risk of injury.
2. Weight gain
Moving causes your muscles to release molecules like lipoprotein lipase, which helps process the fats and sugars you eat. When you spend most of your day sitting, the release of these molecules is lessened, and you begin to gain weight. You’re also at greater risk for metabolic syndrome, even if you exercise.
3. Tight hips and a bad back
As with your leg and glute muscles, your hips and back will suffer from sitting. Sitting causes your hip flexors to shorten, and your seated position can also hurt your back, particularly if you have bad posture or don’t use an ergonomic chair. Also, poor posture while sitting can cause compression on the discs in your spine and can lead to premature degeneration, which results in chronic pain.
4. Anxiety and depression
Less well understood than some of the physical effects of sitting, are the mental effects. People who sit the most are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. This could be because the mental health benefits of fitness are lacking when one spends their days sitting down rather than moving. If so, these risks could be mitigated with regular exercise.
5. Varicose veins
Sitting for long periods can cause blood to pool in the legs. This can lead to varicose veins or spider veins, a smaller version of the former. Though generally not harmful themselves, these swollen and visible veins can be unsightly. In rare cases, they can lead to more serious conditions, like blood clots.
6. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep vein thrombosis is a type of blood clot that’s most common in the legs. When part of this clot breaks off, it can cut off the flow of blood to other parts of the body, such as your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. This is a medical emergency that can lead to major complications or even death. Sitting for too long, even on a long road trip, can cause DVT.
7. Stiff shoulders and neck
As with your legs, buttocks, and lower back, your shoulders and neck will also suffer from prolonged sitting. This is especially true if you’re hunched over looking at a computer screen.
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