What happens to your body when you sit for too long?
Taking time to relax and put your feet up is important to maintain self-care, but doing this in excess actually has many negative effects. Even taking the time to decompress from a long day at the office might actually not be as great for you in the long run. Think about it – sitting all day just to come home and sit. Here are some ways that it can negatively impact your body.
1. Slow Digestion
Many times those who sit for long periods of time tend to eat while sitting as well. Sitting down after eating can cause the abdomen to compress, and then slows down digestion. Slow digestion can cause several small issues such as constipation, heartburn, bloating, cramping, and weight gain if this is a long-standing habit.
2. Problems with Posture
Sitting for long periods of time can cause aching shoulders, neck, and back. It can also lead to poor posture which then turns into back problems or strains in the neck and shoulders. The more time that is spent sitting, the more likely it is to slip into a lean or slouch position. Commonly when at the computer, people hold their neck and shoulders forward which causes strain on these areas when held for an extended period of time. Sitting also applies more pressure on to the back than standing does, and the vertebrae of the back are designed to expand and contract with movement. Long periods of sitting cause the disks to compress and lose flexibility which raises the risk of a herniated disc.
3. Leg Disorders
The term “use it or lose it” applies when sitting for long periods of time. The inactivity and excess sitting leads to poor circulation, blood clots, swelling, weak bones, varicose veins, and sometimes in extreme cases it can lead to osteoporosis. Make sure to stay active and keep the blood circulating. This is easy; if you were watching TV, during commercial breaks get up and take a walk or just take a walk once an hour, even when at work. The break will allow you to stretch your legs and get blood flowing and will refresh you mentally as well.
4. Weak muscles
Generally the more active you are, the stronger you have the potential to be. Staying active does not only allow you to be strong but it keeps you moving and this maintains flexibility. Resting after a workout can be relaxing, but don’t forget to stretch the muscles or they will feel tight and make you sore the next day. It is not only legs that suffer when sitting for an extended period of time, standing and walking requires various muscles to tense that are not flexed when sitting. Prolonged sitting has the potential to cause muscle degeneration in the abs, glutes, calves, hips, and more.
How to Avoid These Dangers
These are a few simple ways to counteract the dangers of sitting for prolonged periods of time.
- Taking the stairs whenever possible can jumpstart your heart rate and blood circulation.
- Park further away, take a longer walk in route to your destination.
- When in an office walk to your coworkers or classmates rather than sending them an email.
- Use a chair without armrest as this can force you to sit up straighter.
- Set a reminder to move around for at least 10 minutes every hour.
- Walk on coffee breaks, during lunch or before or after class get some time in at the gym.
- Stretch often and utilize an exercise ball. Small leg raises can be done under your desk instead of using a foot rest.
Turning into a puddle on the couch after a mentally exhausting day might seem appealing, but it does nothing for your physical health. If you have not been able to work some stretching into your day, consider taking time to visit the gym after work. It will help both mentally and physically.
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