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Dangers of sitting too long

Sitting for long periods of time is not good for us yet, most of us do just that at our workplace. For starters, it is not good for our cardiovascular health. Although it is unclear exactly why, excessive sitting can cause the heart muscles to become weakened, causing the blood to have a hard time pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body. The heart isn’t being challenged to pump vigorously as it should.  Sitting also contributes to developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Studies say that every 2 hours of sitting reduces blood flow, raises blood sugar, and reduces good cholesterol levels by 20%. It is not discovered that prolonged sitting is also linked to developing dementia sooner in life. The cause of dementia is the thinning of the medial temporal lobes of the brain, which is a sign of cognitive decline. There is no official evidence that says it is because of sitting for extreme hours at a time, but it is said that the sedentary life of individuals is what causes the thinning of the structure.

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Sitting for hours can alter our bodies’ posture and alignment due to the amount of gravity and fatigue, causing chronic back pain and neck stiffness. Our head begins to lean forward, our shoulders become rounded, and our back starts to slump. We eventually conform to these bad body mechanics to where this type of posture becomes natural and almost permanent. Our muscles become tight in these positions which means they are prone to injuries. Not only can our muscles become tight, but they can also become weakened. Sitting can cause a lack of strength in the back, glutes, and core which makes our seated posture so poor. To stop some of these risks from occurring, the average person is suggested to stand every 30 minutes. This can be done by going for a bathroom break, doing a quick walk around the office, getting a quick drink, or simply standing to stretch your legs and touch your toes. Nowadays, there are special desks to accommodate these risks as well. Some offices offer to stand up desks or even some kind of treadmill desk that allows for movement throughout the day. The standing desk is more practical than a treadmill type of workplace which is fine. The standing desk not only decreases the amount of sitting time but is also linked to increased productivity in the workplace.

Some may think that working out and doing the recommended 2-3 hours of physical activity a week will stop these adverse effects from happening but that is not true. Sitting on the couch or at a desk for hours can reverse the effect of working out as if it never happened. It is said though, that 60-75 minutes of moderate-intensity of physical activity each day eliminates the risks of sitting too much. However, those who sit for three hours or more at one time are still at risk, no matter how much they work out.

While working, we should focus on getting up more. Setting a timer is a practical way to make sure you are moving around and getting proper blood flow to the body. Some offices have decided to only have trashcans located in their break room to cause people to get up and out of their desk area to throw away the trash. Getting up and moving does not need to be hard or time-consuming. We can all benefit from getting up and moving.