Modern society is built on a sedentary lifestyle. The average adult in the United States sits almost seven hours per day. The average teen spends even more time in a seated position. Unfortunately, scientific research demonstrates that this lifestyle is actively harmful to the human body. None of our major systems was designed to be inactive in a sitting position for that long. As a result, people who fall into this category are more likely to experience complications with their skeletal, cardiovascular, and digestive systems. So what is sitting disease?
What Is Sitting Disease?
The truth is that the laundry list of potential side effects is so long that many global organizations have begun to refer to sitting as “the new smoking.” It has even been called sitting disease to create a shorthand for referring to the numerous health risks associated with people who spend far too many uninterrupted hours in a seated position. Here are some of the most common risks and steps you can take to ameliorate them.
Our cardiovascular system was designed to work most efficiently when we stand upright. If you’re sitting too long without regularly standing up and moving around, then you’re more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Clots are another common result of decreased mobility. These can be life-threatening. To limit the effects, you should stand up for about 10 minutes out of every half hour.
Very few people sit properly when they sit for hours at a time. Slouching can stretch the ligaments that support your spine and cause damage to the discs that separate each vertebra from the next. Over time, this can lead to increased back pain and general muscle weakness in the muscles your spin relies on. Without intervention, you will be at risk for a herniated disc, which may require surgery. Dr. Yashar offers discectomy in LA to help patients address these complications.
As with your cardiovascular system, your digestive system was not designed to handle a sedentary lifestyle. If you’re sitting too frequently throughout the day, then your body may struggle to digest your food efficiently. As a result, you will likely retain more fats and sugars than normal. This can exacerbate weight gain and make it more difficult for you to pass waste easily.
Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is regularly associated with increased insulin resistance. As a result, your blood sugars are likely to rise above healthy levels. The current consensus is that people who sit more often have a 112% higher risk of developing diabetes.
Anxiety and Depression
We do not fully understand the connection between a sedentary lifestyle and the increased rates of anxiety and depression, but it is clear that there is some type of link between the two. As part of your own mental health care, medical professionals suggest standing regularly throughout the day even if it is to complete mundane tasks. In addition, maintaining healthy sleep hygiene, a reasonable diet, and engaging regularly with nature are ways that you can work to combat the effects of having to work at a desk.
Making Small Changes
It can be difficult to overcome a sedentary lifestyle when it’s literally required for your professional life. The good news is that you can keep your same job and take care of your body by making a few small changes.
Use a Standing Desk
There are highly affordable options that can be easily placed on top of your existing desk. Some are even adjustable for those who like to switch it up throughout the day.
Volunteer for Errands
Whenever possible volunteer to do small errands throughout the office. Of course, you don’t want this to harm your workflow, but if you have a few minutes do what you can to keep moving.
Practice Good Posture
Posture is a major problem for most of the United States. Make a point of sitting properly and setting your monitor to the appropriate height.
Take Better Care of Yourself Outside of Work
Once you’re off work, take a one to two-mile walk with the family. This may be more difficult during the winter months, but you can always switch it up for an indoor activity if it’s dark by the time you’re home.
Ask Your Doctors for Help
If you’re showing symptoms of sitting disease, then speak to your doctor. Your Los Angeles spine surgeon will be able to help you with your spinal symptoms, and your general practitioner will be able to monitor other signs.