According to a 2011 study by the American College of Cardiology, sitting for prolonged periods of time may be just as detrimental to your health as smoking cigarettes. Although it has long been known that lack of physical activity is detrimental to your overall health, the aim of this study was to determine the effect screen-based entertainment (SBE), such as television watching, computer use, and cell phone use, had on all-cause mortality and mortality due to cardiovascular related diseases.
The results of the study were astounding; as little as 2 hours of sitting per day can pose serious risks to your health. According to the study, as little as 4 hours a day of SBE increases your risk of all-cause mortality by 48%, and only 2 hours a day of screen-based entertainment increases your risk of cardiovascular disease by 125%. These risks are comparable to the risks associated with smoking cigarettes.
The results of this study follow a 13-year research study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that found that after adjusting for a number of risk factors, including body mass index (BMI) and smoking, women who spent six hours a day sitting had a 37 percent increased risk of dying versus those who spent less than three hours a day on their bottoms. For men the increased risk was 17 percent. Exercise, even a little per day, did tend to lower the mortality risk tied to sitting, the team noted. However, sitting’s influence on death risk remained significant even when activity was factored in.
The problem with sitting for long periods of time goes far beyond increased obesity. When sedentary, certain systems in your body are unable to work. For example, your lymphatic system requires muscle movement to transport lymph and ward off disease, and the return of blood form your extremities to your heart requires movement to push blood through your veins. Sitting alters your posture, puts stress on your spine, and changes your breathing patterns. When inactive, your body goes into storage mode, slowing metabolic activity and altering the chemical makeup of the body.
If you spend a lot of time at a desk or computer for your job, your health is being affected, but there are things you can do to limit the problems of this inactivity. First, for every hour you spend sitting, take a 5-10 minute break to walk around, stretch your legs, and get your heart pumping. If you can’t stop your work, stand up at your desk to take a call or finish your work. Second, start an exercise routine. Any exercise is going to be beneficial, but if you spend most of your day at a desk, you will benefit most from spreading your exercise throughout the day. Finally, take some time to relax. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with increased stress, and increased stress can alter the chemical makeup of the body.
If you would like to learn ways to stay healthy despite spending a lot of time sitting, contact Wilderness Chiropractic at 724-934-7788 for a new patient consultation.
Read the full study…