health

Get Off Your Butt: 13 Ways Sitting Too Much Is Seriously Bad For Your Health

by Shellie Renee'

It might seem ridiculous to you that sitting is considered dangerous. After all, it’s something we all do; it’s a normal part of daily life. Unfortunately, it can have some devastating health effects if you do it too often.

Now more than ever, thanks to desk jobs that require us to be in front of a computer for at least eight hours a day, we’re not getting the kind of exercise that we need. In fact, some researchers claim that sitting can be as bad for you as smoking.

Out of all of the health risks in the world, how can sitting even come close to smoking? Well, we’ll show you.

If you’re someone who sits for hours on end, hopefully this will convince you to get up and move around a bit every couple of hours while you’re at work. And when you get home, don’t just plop yourself on the couch until bedtime.

Why Sitting Gets Compared to Smoking

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How’s this for a reality check? According to Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”

The reason why medical professionals compare prolonged sitting to smoking is because it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer, and it can also cause irreversible damage that can’t be remedied with exercise — just like smoking.

Dangers of Sitting Too Much

1. It Can Make You Pack on the Pounds

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Working out and eating right are two proven ways to keep your weight under control, but did you know that sitting for hours at a time can make your metabolism tank and cause you to pack on a few pounds?

This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to get up and walk around every couple of hours. It helps to give your metabolism a bit of a boost.

2. It Can Hurt Your Back

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Studies reveal that the biggest cause of lower back pain is postural stress. In this case, it’s not so much that sitting too long can cause back pain; it’s more that sitting incorrectly or sitting too long in the same position can.

Remedy your posture problems by sitting with your back against the back of your chair with your lower arms parallel to the floor, your upper legs at a 90-degree angle from your body, and your computer close to your hands. Also, be intentional about changing your position ever so slightly every 90 minutes or so. Oh, and consider taking a yoga class; it will increase your body’s flexibility.

3. It Could Damage Your Brain

a brain with bandages
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Not only can sitting too long lead to a significant decrease in brain volume, it can also affect your memory. Just one more great reason to take a stroll around your office every once in a while.

4. It Can Weaken Your Muscles

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Your muscles are what help you move about with ease. When you sit for hours on end, it can lead to weakened muscles, especially when it comes to your legs. The constant pressure on the back of your legs can affect your body’s blood circulation and ultimately lead to muscle breakdown.

5. It Might Cause Cancer

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According to the American Cancer Society, women who spend six or more hours sitting increase their risk of being diagnosed with cancer by 10%.

Some things that you can do to decrease this risk is to add extra movement whenever you can. Park farther from your destination (so that you are able to get more steps in), stand up during your business calls, and take stairs instead of the elevator.

6. It Could Stress You Out

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Have you been feeling super stressed and anxious lately? Maybe it’s your workload. Maybe it’s your bank account. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because you’re sitting too much.

Studies reveal that prolonged sitting can lead to depression, social isolation, insomnia, and overall poor health.

7. It Could Lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis

a woman with throbbing veins
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You might’ve heard of people getting life-threatening blood clots in their bodies while taking long international flights. This is due to the poor blood circulation caused by sitting for a long time. One of those types of blood clots is called deep vein thrombosis.

It can happen when you’re traveling by plane, boat, or automobile — and it can even just happen while you’re sitting at your desk. So just make sure to remember to get up and move around every couple of hours if you’ve been sitting for a really long time.

8. It Increases the Risk of Diabetes

a woman testing her blood sugar
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We mentioned earlier that another risk that comes from sitting too long is getting type 2 diabetes. In fact, out of all the ailments that you could get from sitting too long, diabetes tops the list.

Even if you’re highly active and you don’t sit for hours at a time, there are other risk factors for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has an online test that you can take to assess your risk.

9. It Can Give You Serious Posture Problems

a woman with bad posture
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It’s estimated that 50% to 80% of Americans have bad posture. The reason why that’s a problem is because bad posture can lead to health issues like muscle imbalances, a curved spine, and weight gain.

What are some indications that you have poor posture? If you slouch in your chair, if you stand with your back hunched over, if you lean on one leg while standing, if you cradle your phone, or if you poke out your chin while sitting at your desk — all of these are signs that you’re exhibiting poor posture that could lead to health issues.

10. It Can Affect Your Cholesterol Levels

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Some of the simple things that you can do to keep your cholesterol levels down include eating more fiber, consuming less saturated fat, and — yep, you guessed it — not sitting for more than a couple of hours at a time.

According to a study, sitting and high cholesterol levels are linked. Standing, on the other hand, is much better for your cholesterol levels.

11. It Can Drain Your Energy

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Another problem with sitting too long is it can drain your energy, but if you open up your blinds, drink some cold water, and stand for a few minutes, you’ll get an energy boost in just a matter of moments.

If you’re trying to get over your after-lunch fatigue, instead of gulping down an energy drink, stand up and walk around your desk a couple of times.

12. It Could Cause Organ Damage

a body's organs
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Research says that sitting too long can actually damage your organs. Why? Sitting nonstop for too long can damage your blood vessels because it constricts the arteries in your legs, restricts blood flow, and raises your blood pressure.

13. It Could Decrease Your Life Span

13. It Could Decrease Your Life Span
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If nothing else motivates you to get out of your seat a little more often, hopefully this will. Did you know that sitting too long can decrease your life span?

That’s right. Research reveals that sitting for less than three hours at a time can increase your life expectancy by as much as two months, while sitting more than that can damage your telomeres (the protective caps on your DNA chromosomes) and shorten your life.

If you want to be healthier and live longer, apply a simple motto to your life: Sit less, stand more. Then watch how the quality of your health improves!