The Ruthless Truth About How Bad Your Sedentary Lifestyle Really Is – Part 2

[Updated on 1 June 2020] As discussed in part 1 how bad your sedentary lifestyle really is we are going to learn more about the same in this article. It would be very confusing for the stone age man if they would reappear today. They would be perplexed by the modern human relationship and specifically our relationship with physical exertion. After about six million years of hunting and gathering, human beings are now sheltering in warm rooms, slouching in comfy seats and counteracting the tiresome effects of the earth gravitas effect while staring at glowing screens.

Controversially, a proportion of the same humans will spend some of their free time jogging outside for no apparent reason or stranger still; they will pay some amount to an institution to pass their time carrying weights and heavy objects until they are sore, red and sweaty. How would we explain this particularly odd behavior to our stone age relatives?

Well, living a sedentary life can be very dangerous to your health. The less time you spend sitting down during the day, the better your chances of living a healthy life. If you spend some time of your day moving around, you will have a lower risk of early serious health complications that could lead to early death than if you sit all day at your desk. If you live a sedentary life, you will have a higher chance of being obese, developing heart disease, diabetes type 2 and experiencing anxiety and depression.

Very Dangerous to your Health

Research has also proven that you could significantly reduce your chances of developing back pain, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by adopting an active lifestyle and reducing the time you spend sitting down. According to research, sitting down is more dangerous than smoking;  the effects of excessive sitting kill more people than HIV.

Humans are not designed to be sedentary creatures, according to NASA’s Life Science Division author, Dr. Joan Vernikos, sitting kills and moving heals. The human body is perpetual motion machinery.  Dr. Levine, who is famous for coining the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” says humans spend half of their waking house sitting down driving, watching Television or staring at their computers at home or in the office.

Working out doesn’t help resolve issued caused by extensive sitting

Most Americans are aware of the dangers of living a sedentary lifestyle, and due to this reason, gyms are big businesses. However, according to research, exercise is good for you, but it doesn’t resolve the dangers of sitting down for extended periods. According to Men’s Health, sitting for extended hours is an independent risk factor.

The cure for too much sitting isn’t working out. And while exercise is good for your health, the average human could not do enough to counter the effects caused by sitting down for extended periods. According to Reuters, Katy Bowman, the author of Move Your DNA: Restore your Health through Natural Movement, “it is impossible to offset 10 hours of sitting down with an hour of exercise.”

Dr. Levine, author of Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, sitting for a long period and then get up, several muscular cascades are triggered. For instance, in 90 minutes of standing up, the muscular and cellular systems that process cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides that are normally mediated by insulin activated.

All of these functions are simply activated when we carry our body weight. The same cellular mechanisms also function by pushing fuel into our cells, and if repeated severally, could significantly reduce the risk of developing obesity and diabetes.

According to Toni Yancey, Professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health, sitting down shuts down the electrical activity in the human legs, making it less sensitive to insulin, this is effect causes the burning of calories to plummet, slowing down the breakdown of dangerous body fats. This lowers good cholesterol (HDL).

Sitting and Obesity

According to JAMA the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 35% of adults and 17% of youth in America are obese. Some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, certain types of cancer and Type 2 diabetes which is all linked to obesity. So where is the link between obesity and sitting down?

Sitting and ObesityWell, traditionally obesity has been thought to crop out of lack of exercise and diet. However, scientists have discovered that the amount of time that you spend sitting down could be an important factor. Living a sedentary lifestyle could be worse than obesity.

A study done in the UK has revealed that the time an individual spends sitting down and the amount of exercise you get every single week will affect your chances of obesity. Individuals who engage in low levels of exercise had an 8% rate of obesity, compared to those who engaged in moderate to vigorous daily workouts, who had a 4.8% rate of obesity.

After ten years, the rates were estimated at 6.9% for the active group and 11.9% for the inactive group. Having high levels of activity was associated with a 36% reduced risk of obesity in 5 years and 37% after ten years. If you include sitting down in this equation, those who spent a lot of time exercising and spent less time sitting down had a 74% lower chance of obesity after five years. In 10 years, 49%.

Harvard University studied the link between obesity and watching television; this leads to several health organizations calling for limited Television time for children to no more than 2 hours a day. Tv watching according to this study promotes obesity by displacing the time for physical activity, this, in the long run, promotes poor diet and offers more opportunities for an unhealthy snaking especially during TV watching.

Surprisingly, sitting in your car also produces similar results to sitting down on your couch. According to a study conducted in China comparing the rates of obesity of those using a car and those who did not; those who bought vehicles gained about 4 pounds, doubling their obesity rates.

A study done by the University of Cambridge discovered that being sedentary may be twice as bad as being obese. This study was carried out on 344,000 individuals for 12 years and calculated that more deaths could be prevented by not adopting a sedentary lifestyle.

According to the study, efforts to encourage minor physical activity in inactive individuals had significant health benefits. This reduction was spotted on normal weight, overweight and obese individuals. It was estimated that stopping in activity in the population could reduce the number of deaths twice as much as though obesity had been eradicated.  

Sitting down and posture

Most of us need to work to maintain good posture. According to the National Institute of Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, back pain is one of America’s most common health problems, and one of four people are experiencing this condition.

Transitioning to good habits such as spending less time sitting and standing could significantly help reduce back pain. Looking down at your cellphone or monitor all day could increase your chance of developing postural kyphosis, a condition where an individual’s head tips forward, forcing your shoulders to round forward. This condition has the capability of causing neck and back pain as well as fatigue.

The main cause of back pain in humans is postural stress. Due to this reason, lower back pain is frequently caused by, standing, laying down or sleeping in the wrong position, heavy lifting, prolonged bending.

Proper Sitting Position A research study conducted by Cornell University discovered that there is about 90% more pressure that is added on an individual back when they sit compared to when they are standing. This is because most Americans habitually sit in positions that cause imbalance and tension in the neck and back. The same applies to sit in your house, car or office.

Many individuals are guilty when it comes to the common mistakes that increase postural stress ultimately causing back pain. Over the human lifetime, subconscious habits normally form making it easy to miss instances where we are putting additional stresses on our bodies.

Spending an awful amount of time seated can leave your spine stiff, sore and in pain. This is because too much sitting while it may feel relaxing puts a lot of stress on the muscles and disks of your back and neck. This particular position normally results in the tightness of the hips flexors like the iliopsoas muscle and pressure and some ischemia to the buttock muscle area. This muscle is very crucial when it comes to supporting the spine.

Most importantly, the more time you spend seated, the more likely your posture is going to slide. This is because slouching has the capability of causing the spinal ligaments to stretch beyond their health limits, and poor posture will strain the spinal discs.  The result is an increase in the strain of the outer annulus of the disc with the capability of increasing disc bulge and disc pressure.

Sitting down and Type 2 Diabetes

According to research sitting for prolonged periods might boost your risk for type 2 diabetes even if you work out regularly. Every hour you add in a sedentary position whether you are driving, on your computer, or couch seems to increase your odds against type 2 diabetes by 22 percent.

The study discovered that people who had diabetes spend more time sitting than people without diabetes. Lead researcher Julianne van der Berg, however, insisted that the link between the disease and sitting is only an association and that it doesn’t prove that sitting down can cause diabetes.

Psychologist Gary Scheiner, owner and clinical director of Integrated Diabetes Services believes labor-saving devices are killing humans. He stated that all inventions of the last century that save us from any form of physical activity are counterproductive.  The human body has been designed to move, and when we don’t, our bodies fail us.

The muscle activity that is required for a low-level movement like standing triggers an important process that is related to breaking down of sugars and fats within our bodies. When you sit down, these processes stall, increasing your health risk.

Breaking up sedentary time with some physical activity will interrupt this bad process. To be able to stand upright, individuals need to use particular muscles that allow for basic balance. You might not be burning up a lot of calories, but you are still using some up. Doing any activity allows your metabolism to remove glucose from the bloodstream and reduce fat levels; both of these processes lower your insulin resistance.

It is due to this that the American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone, and not just those who have diabetes- get up every 30 minutes and do some light activity, walk, or stand. According to Scheiner, the most effective way to improve your blood glucose levels is to use your muscles, even if it just means getting up often.

Adopting a movement-based lifestyle

Sitting could be the new smoking, but sitting isn’t what causes all the trouble. Individuals who stand in the same spot all day, e.g., grocery attendants and cashiers also experience musculoskeletal wear and tear but still get a little bit more benefit from standing than sitting down. The main problem that the modern human has is not sitting down, its stillness.

Movement Based LifestyleYour body isn’t wired to sit still for long hours. According to Biology, humans benefit the most from easy walking, squatting, bending lifting and picking things up. The natural movements help circulate fluids round our bodies working our muscles and joints through their entire ranges of motion.

The average American commutes to and from work sit at their desk for eight hours, spends about an hour working out and then sits for another two hours watching television. We feel the hour we spent working out will negate 10 hours of sitting still. Unfortunately, it does not. Working out, and specifically, weight training is an important part of maintaining your muscle and overall body strength. However, this is only a small piece of the puzzle.

The most rational thing to do at this point might be to quit your job and begin a new active life, but that’s definitely out of the question. There are things you could to do both in an out of your workplace to begin your movement-based lifestyle.

At WorkAt work

  • Invest in a fitness tracker to keep track of your movements each day. Ensure you get at least 5,000 steps per day, 10,000 is better. If you are not attaining your minimum steps each day, set targets and increase them gradually each day.
  • Invest in a standing desk
  • During phone calls or conference call, stand up and walk
  • Move once per hour; you could stand up and stretch or do a few squats
  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit you well.

At Home

  • You could begin by dancing or playing with your kids. This will not only reflect on your health but also deepen your bond with family members.
  • Take a walk before or after you sit down for dinner.
  • While watching TV, do planks during commercial breaks
  • Switch to your second-floor bathroom in case you have one. You could also take a longer route to your bathroom.

Transitioning from a sitting to a standing desk

Standing DeskIt’s very easy to talk yourself out of standing at a computer desk. Apart from parting ways with your sacred swinging chair, the price tag on an adjustable model is enough to make most people look the other way. However, this transition doesn’t need to be expensive or an all-or-nothing affair.

The standing desks are becoming more and more common in the modern workplace environment. Studies have suggested that standing desks help reduce the health risks that are related to cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes. In case you are looking to increase your muscular movement and prevent yourself from the increased risk of the diseases mentioned above, consider getting an affordable standing desk.

Do your research

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a fortune on something that you won’t be comfortable using. Before you commit yourself to buy a standing desk, think about what you need, the products convenience, and the overall quality of the product. If possible, experiment before ordering the product. Your main goal here is to find out if you notice any benefits from standing up while working.  While there are a lot of options to choose from online, you may want to get a feel for a standing desk in a furnishing store first.

Prepare for the adjustment period

Transitioning into a standing desk isn’t a difficult task; it’s not a painless process either. You should expect some minor discomfort during the first few days as you adjust. Some of the symptoms will include tired legs, sore feet, and shaky calves. If possible, alternate sitting and standing every hour during the initial stages. Just keep it in mind the discomfort is because your body is accustomed to sitting down while working.

Get the right tools

A lot of us will get worried about sacrificing fashion over a standing desk. Standing for a long time in any style of dress or shoe is uncomfortable and impractical. Therefore, it is important that you get a pair of comfortable shoes that can remain in your cubicle or office.

Apart from just taking care of your feet, you need to have overall comfort while standing. Crucial for this process is an anti-fatigue floor mat. These floor mats are designed with extra cushioning to help you work longer while standing, getting rid of fatigue in your knees. Using a standard half-inch anti-fatigue mat will suffice for most individuals. However, you might want to consider buying a thicker one in case you spend more than ten hours standing.

Understand ergonomics

These are the design factors that are intended to maximize your productivity in the workplace minimizing discomfort and fatigue. It is therefore important to utilize the proper techniques when you are working. We listed a few ergonomic tips to help you out:

  • Your computer screen needs to be at eye level
  • Your arms should be at a 90 degrees angle when typing
  • And your computer needs to be at arm’s length when typing

Focus on your posture

When you are standing, try to focus on your overall posture. It is very easy to go back to the old habits that made you transition into a standing desk in the first place. Your feet need to be positioned shoulder-length apart but also consider crossing your legs to switch it up as well. After some time, you will begin to find out what works best for you.

Take breaks regularly

In case you have conference calls or meetings, these are perfect moments you could take a break off your feet and sit down for a short period. Also, walk away from your station just to walk. Standing for long periods immobile is just as dangerous as sitting down. You don’t have to spend a lot of time walking. Take a five-minute walk for an hour of standing.

Why use a standing desk?

Well, there are two reasons you need to transition to a standing desk: For posture and high-calorie burn. When most people sit at the desk or even a fancy ergonomic chair, they tend to slump with the shoulders forward and their backs curved. This action closes your chest and makes your breathing shallow.

When you stand at your desk with your forearms positioned at a 90-degree angle on your desk surface, your shoulders will be pushed back, making the spine concave opening your chest. In the initial stages, you will feel the foot pain, and muscle aches as your claves and thighs engage, but after some time, it will begin to feel great.

Transitioning to a standing desk isn’t something that you’ll have to wait for your doctor to recommend. There are already some studies that we have discussed that outline the negative effects of excessive sitting. Humans haven’t been designed to spend more than 40 hours a week sitting down.

Will, my feet hurt? Yes, a lot at first. The first three days will be brutal, but after a few days of getting used to your new working position; you will begin to appreciate the effects of sitting less.

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