Many business owners, CEOs, and busy executives find themselves sitting at their desks for up to 12, or even more, hours per day. Although hard work can certainly put you on the fast track to success, long hours spent sitting can be disastrous for your health. Numerous studies conducted over recent years have shown that sitting down for long periods of time can have a variety of negative effects on the mind and body.
For example, one study showed that sitting in a chair at work or on the couch at home for over six hours per day can increase the risk of heart disease by up to 64 percent. Although the world these days seems to revolve around sedentary behaviour such as watching TV, working at a computer, driving, and checking out social media on a cell phone or tablet, sadly this lack of movement is also harming us. If you’re keen to get your health in order in 2015, read on for the top reasons why you need to get away from your desk, and tips to go about doing it.
Increase Risk of Disease
According to a recently-released study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, sedentary behavior such as sitting at a desk all day has a myriad of harmful effects. After looking at 47 different studies of sedentary living, the researchers came to the conclusion that it can dramatically increase the chances of falling ill with a disease or other type of condition that can lead to premature death.
Unfortunately, the study also shows that, even if people exercise, large amounts of sitting can still outweigh the benefits received from being active. (Note, though, that the impact is lowered the more exercise a person fits in each week). The major issues caused by sitting for long periods of time are shown to be cardiovascular disease, chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, and various types of cancer.
When it comes to heart disease, it seems that people who spend the most time living in a sedentary manner are more than twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease as those who are more active. Sitting for long periods of time is said to elevate cholesterol levels and increase blood pressure. Since muscles burn less fat when a person sits for a prolonged period and their blood also flows more slowly during this time, fatty acids can more easily clog the heart. In addition, insulin levels tend to rise from sitting for many hours.
This is due to the fact that the cells in muscles that aren’t moving about don’t respond very readily to insulin in the body. In turn, the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, is triggered to produce more and more of the hormone, leading to diabetes and other diseases over time. Statistically, people who sit for eight to 12 hours a day or more, actually increase their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 90 percent.
Increased Risk of Cancer
Studies has also linked sitting with greater risks for breast, colon and endometrial cancers. Although the reason why has not been made clear as yet, one of the theories is that the excess insulin mentioned above encourages the growth of cells — not all of which are good for the body.
Another theory is that people who move regularly boost their levels of natural antioxidants, thus killing off the cell-damaging free radicals that can potentially cause cancer.
Furthermore, if you struggle with back, neck, or shoulder pain, or issues with other muscle groups, you are also likely seeing the effects of sitting for too many hours per day. The risk of suffering from herniated lumbar discs in your back is radically increased by sticking to your chair, as is the chance of finding yourself with an inflexible spine and squashed, uneven discs.
Hours slumped forward in a chair working at a computer or with a tilted head while on the phone can also strain the cervical vertebrae in your neck, and lead to long-lasting imbalances. In addition, tendon and muscle-related work injuries often stem from long days at a desk. Many of the different workplace compensation claims seen by Claims Direct and other personal injury specialists occur due to too many hours sitting down at work without incorporating correct posture techniques and other occupational health and safety tips.
What’s the Solution?
So, the big question is then, how do office-bound workers avoid the many risks associated with long hours spent sitting down on the job? There are two particular things to remember: you need to take regular standing breaks from the chair, and you need to ensure you get around half an hour of exercise per day.
Throughout your time at work, get up and move away from your desk. Walk around, and allow your body to move, even if it is just for a few minutes at a time. Do some stretches, walk around the office to talk to a colleague instead of emailing them, or take a quick stroll around the block. You can also walk around while you’re in a conference call or meeting. This not only aids the body, but also helps to fire up your creativity.
Another solution that some workers implement is to opt for a standing workstation, rather than a desk you sit at. No matter what tips you opt for, the most important thing is to avoid sitting without a break for hours at a time.
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