How sitting for too long can be harmful for your health

To feel fit and healthy, we all know we need to move our bodies. It is not only essential for our physical health but mental health as well.

The recent lockdowns, combined with the surge in work-from-home opportunities, have exacerbated a long-term trend in which people and children spend more time sitting, often slouching, and staring at screens. The most recent data are alarming.

In the United Kingdom, the average person currently sits for 9.5 hours every day. It is closer to ten for people in the United States.

Moreover, people engage in only two hours of physical activity per week. After 10 days, there was a 5% decrease in average steps taken. After 30 days, there was a 27% decrease in average steps taken.

Mental health

Sitting for prolonged periods, especially with poor posture, is a severe problem. Psychologist Suzy, who is also a personal trainer and a yoga instructor, explains:

The research into this is pretty alarming. There are all sorts of links between a sedentary lifestyle and things such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, bone-thinning, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, strokes and accelerated ageing.
There was a study that took a group of healthy young people and asked them to sit still. After only two weeks they started to display signs of anxiety and depression. Being sedentary has an impact on mental health and how we feel.

Thus, it is beneficial to move around a little during the day and not just sit in one position. Suzy claims that there are workouts for people of all ages and fitness levels, with some that can be done while sitting in a chair and others that require the use of a wall for support.

Modify sitting to get better

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Annie Spratt/UNSPLASH

However, modifying how we sit, move, and breathe might help undo any damage. It can produce change really rapidly and it's not about getting out and exercising for an hour. All that is required is for us to get up and out of our seats for a few minutes and do a few stretches. It doesn't have to be an extreme sweaty workout; simply simple stretching exercises that are truly enjoyable after extended periods of sitting are sufficient.

Sitting for long hours is a tendency that has been going on for a long time. People are always invited to ‘take a seat' wherever they go. Working from home has worsened the problem of prolonged sitting even more than before. As such, it has become vital to introduce people to regular movement to break up sedentary periods.

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