Sitting for long hours may lead to slipped disc, heart diseases among others: Here's how one can counteract the harm it causes to body
Sitting for excessively long periods has already been associated with increased fat accumulation in your body, leading to obesity.
According to the World Health Organisation, in a survey carried out globally in the year 2016, it was seen that 23 percent of men and 32 percent of women aged 18 or above are physically inactive. While technology has made our lives a lot easier, it has also made us more sluggish and lethargic. Most adolescents are seen either glued to their laptop screens or their mobile phones. The case is almost the same with young adults who are stuck at their work desks for their 9 to 5 jobs. But sitting on the same chair without any physical activity for long hours can not only cause harm to your back but also lead to various systemic illnesses.
Evolution of sitting patterns
The Hadza, modern hunter-gatherer people living in northern Tanzania, have more resting hours in a day than we, in an industrial set up, have and yet we are at a higher risk of getting cardiovascular diseases in future.
According to the article published in the journal PNAS on 31 March 2020, even while resting, the Hadza people have increased muscle activity as compared to the people who spend hours in chair-sitting, sedentary postures. Hadza people rest in a squatting posture which is called the active rest posture, as it involves continuous use of the lower limb muscles, which is next to nothing in the case of people sitting on chairs in urban settings. Moreover, a similar sitting posture can be seen in various villages in the rural parts of India.
Ill effects of sitting for prolonged hours
According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine involving around 8,000 participants, sitting for prolonged periods of time daily can be a risk factor for early death. The researchers stated that as the number of sedentary hours increase, so does the risk of mortality.
Sitting for excessively long periods has already been associated with increased fat accumulation in your body, leading to obesity. It is already a well-established fact that obesity is a risk factor for many systemic diseases such as heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Sitting for prolonged hours in a bad posture puts pressure on your spine, thus increasing your chances of getting a slipped disk as well.
Alternatives to sitting
According to the scientists, a high-intensity workout for 30 minutes a day is good enough to keep your body fit and healthy. Furthermore, rather than sitting for long periods of time, you can try the following:
- Get up and take a walk after every 30 minutes of sitting.
- If you are working from home, take a 15-minute break and go out for a quick walk or run.
- Get up from your seat and stretch your body as this would prevent your body from becoming stiff.
- Walk around when you're making a call or are on a break.
- Use a standing desk or a high table you can stand and work at from time to time.
- Suggest a walk around the office campus during discussions or catch-ups to your colleagues, in place of sitting in a conference room.
- Keep your back straight while sitting on the chair as bad posture can lead to many back-related issues such as a slipped disc.
- Include squats into your daily routine. An easy way to do this is to associate doing a set of 8 with a regular activity like every time you go to the washroom or refill your glass/bottle of water.
For more information, read our article on Exercises to improve your posture.
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