- How Sitting All Day Is Damaging Your Body
And How You Can Counteract It
Do you sit in an office chair or on your couch for more than six hours a day? Then here are some disturbing facts: Your risk of heart disease has increased by up to 64 percent. You're shaving off seven years of quality life. You're also more at risk for certain types of cancer. Simply put, sitting is killing you. That's the bad news. The good news: It's easy to counteract no matter how lazy you are.
Let's start with the basics. Since childhood you've known being a couch potato is bad. But why? Simply put, our bodies weren't made to sit all day. Sitting for long periods of time, even with exercise, has a negative effect on our health. What's worse, many of us sit up to 15 hours a day. That means some of us spend the bulk of our waking moments on the couch, in an office chair, or in a car.
Sitting all day long isn't hard to counteract, but you have to keep your eye on two details: your daily activity and the amount of time you sit. Let's start by taking a look at what sitting all day does to your body.
An Estimated Timeline of the Effects of Sitting
It's difficult to get an accurate assessment of what sitting all day will do to you because the effects work in tandem with diet and other risk factors. So we're going to start with a relatively healthy person who does not drink in excess, smoke, and who isn't overweight. Then we'll estimate the effects of sitting for over six hours a day based on what starts happening immediately after you sit down. For a general overview of the effects, take a look at this chart from Medical Billing and Coding to see a breakdown of what that happens in your body when you sit down. (If the majority of your sitting time takes place at a desk, keep in mind that a standing desk has its own problems, too.)
Immediately After Sitting
Right after you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute. This is about a third of what it does if you're walking. If you sit for a full 24-hour period, you experience a 40 percent reduction in glucose uptake in insulin, which can eventually cause type 2 diabetes.
After Two Weeks of Sitting for More Than Six Hours a Day
Within five days of changing to a sedentary lifestyle, your body increases plasma triglycerides (fatty molecules), LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), and insulin resistance. This means your muscles aren't taking in fat and your blood sugar levels go up, putting you at risk for weight gain. After just two weeks your muscles start to atrophy and your maximum oxygen consumption drops. This makes stairs harder to climb and walks harder to take. Even if you were working out every day the deterioration starts the second you stop moving.
After One Year of Sitting More Than Six Hours a Day
After a year, the longer term effects of sitting can start to manifest subtly. According to this study by Nature, you might start to experience weight gain and high cholesterol. Studies in woman suggest you can lose up to 1 percent of bone mass a year by sitting for over six hours a day.
Thanks to Thorin Klosowski / Life Hacker
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