Many of us are working from home and spending long hours sitting in our office chairs. There are many reasons why working from home can be bad for our health if we don’t take steps to counteract the effects of long periods of sitting.
Studies actually show that sitting in a chair for over three hours per day can be just as bad for our bodies – or worse – than smoking. Take a second and re-read that sentence, because it seems like something we would all do well to avoid at any cost. Here are some of the main ways that prolonged sitting can cause harm:
Blood Sugar Levels Rise
Research has shown that a long stint of sitting can cause blood sugar levels to rise. When just walking breaks are added, these levels show a 30% improvement. In order for your body to handle low energy, it needs movement – even very basic movements – to better process food and regulate steady blood sugar levels.
Metabolism Slows Down
Sitting is a form of rest, but it’s not the kind of rest that humans need. If we sit for an extended period of time, our metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy and resources. What was meant as a survivalist instinct can actually lead to weight gain if sitting becomes our main activity.
Sitting Causes Lack of Attention and Focus
This is an indirect effect of sitting, but it’s one that can be very harmful. When we sit for extended periods of time, our brain not only notices a lack of movement (which leads to a decline in motivation), the stiffness from sitting also causes us to lose focus or attention span.
Risk For Heart Disease Increases
Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease. When you sit for long periods, blood flow slows as the body’s way of ensuring a brief rest. The slowed blood flow allows fatty acids to accumulate in the vessels that line your arteries and put your heart at risk for disease.
Too much sitting exposes individuals to a higher risk for developing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Lacking physical activity increases your chances of developing heart problems like atherosclerosis and stroke.
Mobility Becomes Compromised
Have you ever been sitting in one position for a while, and when you go to stand up, you feel stiff or even have difficulty standing? That’s because lengthy periods of time in one position causes your joints to lose their natural lubrication. In fact, scientists have found that the longer your bottom has been stationary for, the harder it is for you to stand up.
This can lead to an overwhelming sense of weakness, as if your legs have been asleep while sitting and now they’ve woken up with pins-and-needles sensation and need more time than usual to feel normal again.
Proper Posture Becomes Difficult To Maintain
Sitting is something that we all do every day – and a seemingly harmless activity, at that. The problem lies in what our bodies are typically expected to do when sitting for prolonged periods of time: stand up, walk around, or even take a break once in a while.
The IDSA recommends that people stand for at least two hours each day, and that sitting should be limited to less than one hour per work shift. The standing desk movement is gaining ground in the U.S., with many companies providing – or considering providing – these desks as an option for their employees.
Lower Back Injury Risk Increases
As maintaining good posture becomes more difficult. The medical definition of bad posture is “when the body experiences an abnormal spinal curve as a result of being in static positions for too long.” Bad posture increases your risk of injury. This is particularly true for the lower back.
Sitting for long periods is also the leading cause of chronic back pain, increasing both pressure on discs in our spine and compression to nerves that run through this area. Sitting for extended periods has been found to be a major contributor to herniated disks as well, which can lead to nerve-related pain.
The Bottom Line
Though prolonged sitting isn’t ideal, we understand that it is a part of the modern workday for many people. The real issue isn’t moving enough. Since 1950, an increasing number – up to 25% now – are in sedentary jobs. And office workers? Many of them sit from 8-15 hours a day!
The quickest way to combat the dangerous effects of prolonged sitting is to incorporate movement in your routine. You can do with taking stairs instead of an elevator, standing while you take phone calls, or taking regular breaks throughout the day between typing sessions.
While we may not transform into athletes overnight, the more mindful you become of movement throughout your day and developing habits that are healthier in the long term for you.
How Chiropractic Can Help Keep You Healthy
One way to support your body and promote regular, pain-free movement is by going in for regular chiropractic care. A chiropractic adjustment from an experienced back doctor can improve your posture and help to maintain the nervous and immune systems. Oftentimes, individuals unknowingly have a misalignment of the spine that can cause a myriad of pain patterns – which chiropractic care and adjustments can help to alleviate.
Oftentimes, individuals unknowingly have a misalignment of the spine due to prolonged sitting and poor posture that can be causing a myriad of pain patterns. Fortunately, chiropractic adjustments and care can help correct this.