Sitting has become the new cancer, and it is not just a figure of speech, but a case of a new disease in our lives. Participating in a sedentary lifestyle, marked by prolonged periods of sitting, has been associated with an elevated vulnerability to a range of health conditions.
They include obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Inactivity is the second leading cause of preventable death in major Western countries. Obesity holds the top rank, while smoking occupies the third position.
The human body is inherently designed for movement, and prolonged periods of sitting can result in irreversible damage to our health.
Extending sitting is also bad for child health. When children spend too much time sitting, it can impact their mental and physical growth. When children sit for long periods of time, they are not engaging in physical activity. This can lead to weaker bones, slower growth, and delayed development.
It is, therefore, important for everyone to engage in regular physical activity and avoid prolonged periods of sitting to maintain good health.
What is Sitting Disease Anyway?
Sitting disease, also known as sedentary lifestyle syndrome or sitting-related metabolic disorder, is a term used to describe the negative health effects that result from prolonged periods of sitting or physical inactivity.
It refers to a range of conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other metabolic disorders that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
According to University of Washington sitting disease
is defined as a condition of increased sedentary behavior associated with adverse health effects.The Whole U
Sitting disease is becoming increasingly prevalent in modern society, as more people work in sedentary jobs that involve sitting for long periods of time. This problem is worsened by the fact that many individuals engage in leisure activities that also require sitting. Such activities include watching television or playing video games.
The human body is designed for movement, and prolonged periods of sitting can result in a decrease in our metabolism. Just as well, our muscles become inactive, leading to a range of negative health effects.
Sitting disease is characterized by a range of metabolic changes, such as increased insulin resistance, abnormal blood sugar levels, and increased inflammation.
All of these changes increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
How Prolonged Sitting Affects Us
Sitting for long periods can affect our bodies in several ways. For example:
- Increased risk of obesity: Sitting for long periods can cause the body’s metabolism to slow down (our muscles burn less fat), which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
- It affects our blood sugar levels: Prolonged sitting can reduce the effectiveness of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. This can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- It increases the risk of heart disease: Sitting for long periods can increase blood pressure, and it also increases the risk of developing heart disease.
- Reduced circulation: Sitting for extended periods can reduce blood flow to the legs and feet, which can cause swelling and other circulatory problems.
- It can cause back pain: Sitting for extended periods can lead to poor posture, which can cause chronic back and neck pain, or tech neck. This is because sitting for long periods can cause muscle imbalances and put a strain on the spine.
- Increased risk of certain types of cancer: Some studies have linked prolonged sitting to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon, breast, and endometrial cancer.
What Experts Have to Say
Experts agree that sitting disease is a significant health concern and can have negative effects on the body.
Many studies have shown that prolonged sitting is associated with an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week to maintain good health.
They also advise limiting sedentary behavior, including sitting, as much as possible.
Exercise can be viewed as a preventative medical treatment, ‘like a pill’ that should be taken on an almost daily basis.
The World Health Organization also recommends that adults should engage in regular physical activity and minimize sedentary behavior to maintain good health.
Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being.
They suggest breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with short bouts of light-intensity physical activity, such as stretching or walking.
Many experts also recommend workplace interventions, such as standing desks or active workstations. These can help reduce sitting time and increase physical activity in the workplace.
How to Combat Sitting Disease
To fight off sitting disease, it is important to make lifestyle changes that reduce the time spent sitting.
Here are some tips to help you combat it:
1. Stand up and move around frequently
Standing up and moving around frequently can help reduce the risk of sitting disease. Even small breaks, such as standing up and stretching for a few minutes, can make a big difference. Consider setting a timer to remind yourself to stand up and move around every hour or so.
2. Use a standing desk
Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. They allow you to work while standing up, which can help reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. If you don’t have a standing desk, consider using a high table or counter as a makeshift standing desk.
3. Incorporate physical activity into your day
Regular physical activity is essential for good health. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity into your day, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Use a stability ball as a chair
Using a stability ball as a chair can help improve posture, engage core muscles, and reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. Just be sure to choose a ball that is the right size for your height.
4. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a simple way to increase physical activity and reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.
5. Stretch regularly:
Stretching can help improve posture, reduce muscle tension, and improve flexibility.
6. Limit screen time:
Reduce the amount of time spent sitting in front of a computer, television, or other electronic devices.
7. Stay hydrated:
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and improve circulation.
Overall, experts agree that reducing sitting time and increasing physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and preventing the negative effects of sitting disease.
Sitting disease is a serious problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a result of an excessively sedentary lifestyle and can result in various chronic diseases.
The good news is that sitting disease is preventable. There are several simple steps you can take to reduce your risk.