They say that the human body is the ultimate machine, the most incredible, intricate, powerful machine invented by Mother Nature. Made to endure all kinds of physical stress and all forms of physical endeavors, it’s hard to imagine that your typical teenage boy stuck in front of a computer screen for ten hours straight is the same species as the athlete across the street. Decades in the future, and a few life-changing habits later, the first boy will likely suffer from a wide range of chronic health issues, not just weight trouble, while the latter might enjoy a long, vital silver age.
The moment we as humans collectively realized we could sit down, we’ve changed the course of our lives. But now that we spend most of our time seated, working long hours, and then going home to rest (you’ve guessed it, while sitting down), we also need to understand the long-term consequences of our non-actions. Here are a few health risks to keep in mind every time you reach for the chair.
Unwanted weight gain
This one may be a no-brainer, but most people who start increasing their down-time literally fail to notice the change in their body composition. Plus, leading a sedentary life is rarely a single negative habit people have. Typically followed by unhealthy eating habits, constant snacking, smoking, and other health-wrecking behaviors, sitting is just one piece of the obesity puzzle, but truly a major one.
When you spend too much time not being active, your body slows down, your metabolism becomes more sluggish, and you generally tend to eat more calories than you’re able to “burn” even simply by walking. Add to that, hormonal imbalances are a common risk for people who are passive for hours on end, only increasing your odds to gain more unwanted fat.
With fat come the heart issues, too. If you fail to work out at all, and you spend very little to no time being active outside of your work hours, even if it means just taking a stroll back home instead of the bus, you put your heart at risk. Your chances of developing hypertension are greater, your muscles deteriorate, and what is your heart? A muscle.
Without ample exercise, your heart becomes weaker and less functional over time. Add the poor diet choices and weight gain, and you have a dangerous cocktail for your cardiovascular wellbeing. As Dr. James de Lemos explains, we need to focus both on being more active and sitting down less in order to keep our heart healthy.
Pain in the neck (and your back)
Have you ever seen what spinal surgery looks like? Because compressed nerves, wrecked discs, and other lovely consequences of sitting down for hours on end in unnatural, slouched positions that put so much pressure on your spine are truly likely for inactive people. You can learn more about possible treatments from professionals such as Dr. Timothy Steel with a long list of patients whose spinal troubles needed surgical help.
All medical professionals will always advise doing your best in terms of preventing such outcomes. Studies show that even a brief break to stand up after 30 minutes of sitting can lead to significant decreases in low back pain, as much as 32%. Do yourself a favor and make it your habit to do more work standing up and take regular breaks to be more active. Your spine will thank you!
The moody blues
Your habit of sitting down literally gets you down, and even research shows that all of that sitting leads to mental distress, anxiety, mood changes, and a slew of other cognitive consequences. When you come back from a long day at work, after eight hours of sitting down almost non-stop, you may feel so exhausted that you just melt in front of the TV.
However, this habit of passivity only increases your chances to feel even worse. Instead, to beat your exhaustion and lack of spirit, you’d do your body a favor if you hit a treadmill, pick up a jump rope, head to a dance class, or anything in between. If your office is friendly enough, you can even add an occasional mood-boosting routine to stretch out those sleepy legs and get your blood flowing. You’ll feel better instantly, and you’ll stop the sitting marathon.
Consider sitting your most vicious of silent killers. As harmless as they seem, those sedentary hours only wreak havoc on your health and longevity, so make sure to be more active, and infuse your life with other healthy habits that will inspire you to stay on your toes – literally as well as figuratively.