A sedentary lifestyle is the last thing you need if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. From childhood, you might have been told that being a couch potato is really bad. While it might seem like fun to sit all day and do nothing or do everything in one place, this habit may just be killing you healthwise. Technology may have made it seem easy to stay in a place and carry out so many activities, however, maintaining a sedentary lifestyle may just be killing you. Here are seven reasons why.
Uncontrollable Weight Gain
A sedentary lifestyle makes it really easy for you to put on extra pounds and calories. If not controlled, weight gain can lead to obesity. Obesity poses a lot of health challenges. Diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and high blood pressure are some things that come with obesity and weight gain. In addition, obesity can affect your overall appearance and self- esteem.
Something with your Posture
You may just wave goodbye to a good posture once you embrace a sedentary lifestyle. When you sit for long periods of time, there are great chances that you will begin to develop a slouchy posture that involves bending your back. With time, this slouchy posture will affect your usual gait when you stand and walk. Apart from making you look extremely unattractive, a bad body posture can also affect your spinal cord and lead to back pain.
Increased Risks of Cancer
Sitting for long hours can cause an inflammation of the endometrial lining and this can lead to endometrial cancer. In addition, it causes an increased risk of having breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.
On the contrary, increased physical activity reduces inflammation which in turn, lowers your risk of having these types of cancers.
It Reduces your Life Expectancy
Sitting for too long may just do as much damage as smoking does in terms of your life expectancy. Researchers say that sitting too long can reduce your life expectancy. On the contrary, reducing sitting hours by about three hours can increase your life expectancy by two years. If you want to stay around the earth for some more years, you may want to start by walking about.
Damaging your Body Organs
A sedentary lifestyle causes damages to your body organs especially your heart, pancreas, and colon. When you sit for too long, you slow down the rate at which your organs burn off fat. In addition, you slow down your heart rate. A reduction in the fatty content that is burned off increases the risk of getting your heart clogged with fatty acids. This may lead to heart failures and other heart-related infections.
Sitting also stimulates the pancreas to secrete larger quantities of insulin and this can stimulate uncontrolled cell growth and lead to cancer; especially colon cancer. This can also lead to a type of diabetes. Experts say that sitting for too long may increase your risk of having diabetes type 2 by almost 90%. Alterations in hormone secretions plus other metabolic dysfunctions that come with a sedentary lifestyle may also increase your risk of having cancer.
What about your Muscles?
A whole lot happens to your body muscles when you embrace a sedentary lifestyle. First among them is the weakening of your abdominal muscles. Usually, when you stand and walk around, your abdominal muscles become tense and this makes them stronger. However, sitting for too long makes the abdominal muscles lazy as they stay around doing nothing. This eventually makes them weak. In addition, sitting may affect the mobility of your hip muscles and limit their flexibility and range of movement. This can lead you to fall when you try to stand or walk.
Perhaps, the most obvious effect of prolonged sitting is poor blood circulation. Sitting for too long restricts blood flow to your muscles and this can lead to swellings around the ankle areas. It may also lead to blood clots plus the development of varicose veins in the ankle areas. It may also affect your stability and the firmness of your gait when you walk or when you run.
Your Brain’s Health
Your brain is one of the most important organs in your body as it coordinates a lot of life functions. As such, it is important to keep your brain healthy and functioning at optimum capacity. One way to ensure that this happens is to limit the number of hours you spend sitting. Sitting for too long slows down your brain’s activity and its speed of carrying out functions. This is because a sedentary lifestyle reduces the supply of fresh blood and oxygen to the brain. A shortage in supply of blood and oxygen makes it impossible for your brain to function well. In addition, it also impedes the secretion of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins. This increases your risk of suffering depressions and mood swings.
What to Do
If you have a job that confines you to the chair, there are methods you can adopt that will ensure you do not remain a couch potato.
- Instead of taking the elevator when you need to move across floors, try taking the stairs more often. This is a great way to get you moving and keep your muscles working. It also helps your heart rate and posture.
- Instead of making a call or sending an email to your co-worker or team lead, walk across to the person’s desk.
- If you have a car, park it some meters away from the office so that you can walk a little.
- Take a longer route to your office and your work table. You can try walking around your desk for some minutes before taking a sit. This way, you get to exercise your muscles and your body organs like your heart and brain.
Reorganize your Office Space
Forget about getting comfortable. Keep everything you need for the day’s job far away from you so that you have to stand up and move when you need to get them (which should be often, by the way.)
Set Walk Goals
This is a great way to ensure you move around as often as you need to. Get a pedometer and set walk goals for yourself. You may want to start with something simple; like 7,000 steps a day. Some daring persons may set goals as high as 150,000 steps a day. Don’t push it: you should start with easier goals and move to more complex ones as time goes on. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you hit or surpass the target. And do not forget to punish your self if you do not. This is what I do. It’s a great way to do away with the sedentary lifestyle.
So, what happens if the things I have outlined are just simply impossible? Let’s imagine that there’s no way to do any of the things I have already mentioned, you can still maintain a good posture while sitting and reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting. I’ll tell you how.
Instead of the soft cushion you use as your office chair, you could try getting a wooden chair that has no arm or backrest. Yeah, I know it will be extremely uncomfortable. However, it will force you to maintain an upright position while you sit and to move or adjust your position on the chair from time to time.
Sitting for too long does more harm than good; even though it seems rather pleasurable in the short run. Embrace a healthier life today. Get up and move!