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The Health Consequences Of Sitting

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You may be doing all the right things and we’re not at all discounting that, but if you’re sitting with poor posture and take part in repetitive movements, it could be causing serious health consequences. 


What are the health consequences of sitting? Let’s dive into them below!


From the top, beginning with your brain, this is just one of the organs that are affected. Do you ever have a hard time focusing and does you have brain fog? This could all be a result of the lack of movement. 


When you stand up and move around it gets everything flowing — blood and lymph — and triggers a chemical release of mood and brain-boosting compounds. So when we sit for hours on end, everything slows and our brains function gets clouded. 


From your brain, we’ll move down to the neck. Do you ever experience a sore, tight, or strained neck? If you do, you’re not alone — it’s one of the most common pain issues reported. When you’re sitting at your desk you could be straining your vertebra by looking down and forward at your keyboard, or sitting slumped over that, over time, pinches the vertebra. 


Our neck leads into our shoulders and back, which are some of the other most reported pain and discomfort issues in the workplace. When we slouch, it’s not all coming from our neck, it also incorporates our shoulders and back. If your traps are constantly sore it could be a result of the lack of movement combined with sitting improperly.  


Our spine also suffers from poor posture in the workplace. When we move, again everything flows, and our vertebra receives fresh nutrients and blood. On the other hand, when we remain sedentary, our discs contract unevenly which puts us at risk for more herniated discs in our lower back. 


We mentioned earlier how our brain is impacted, but there are many other organs that are affected. 


The more you sit and are sedentary at work, the more susceptible you are to heart disease. Because blood flow is impacted in prolonged sitting, this allows fatty acids to move towards and clog the heart. 


Sitting has also been linked to higher cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and heart disease. 


Prolonged sitting also has an effect on the pancreas. The pancreas synthesizes insulin and insulin is what carries glucose (sugar) to cells for energy. When our muscles stay idle they don’t respond as well to insulin which triggers the pancreas to continue making more, even though you’re less active. High insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance, which can then lead to type 2 diabetes.  Research has even pointed to a decline in the insulin response after just one day of sitting. 


Not only does sitting have an impact on many of our organs, but it has also been linked to a greater cancer risk, specifically breast, endometrial, and colon cancers. While more research and studies need to be conducted, the theory behind this is that icreased insulin levels are responsible for cell growth. In addition, there is also the idea that movement and exercise better boost antioxidant levels, reducing the number of free radicals. 


If these issues don’t convince you that sitting is harmful, we have a couple more things to explore! 


Sitting is terrible on your muscles. Even sitting up straight makes a world of difference. When you slump over, this disengages your abs and they go unused. As a result, your back muscles get tight from being overstretched when they’re slouched. While this may not seem like an issue now, in time, your abs and back become weakened which greatly impacts your posture and spine and cause hyperlordosis (swayback).


Long periods of sitting also impacts your circulation. Blood circulation is impaired with long bouts of sitting, and it will pool in the legs. This can manifest in swollen legs and ankles, varicose veins, and deep vein thrombosis.


What can you do to better ward off the effects of sitting?


  • Take frequent movement breaks – Every hour get up and walk around and get your blood flowing!
  • Get an ergonomic task chair – This may not solve all your problems, but it’s somewhere you can start.
  • Stretch at your desk – If you do repetitive movements, take a moment and stretch your wrists, neck, arms, and back. 
  • Try a standing desk – The best option is to find a desk where you can do both — stand and sit. This helps break up your day and allows things to flow. 


Take action and work towards getting more movement in throughout your work day.


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