Even though the 21st century has ushered in a great many technological advancements, which makes our day to day life easier; it has also brought into focus the consequences of leading a sedentary lifestyle. More and more people are sitting for longer durations and this is leading to an increase in lifestyle illnesses. With these noticeable increases, organisations such as the American Cancer Society are encouraging the populace to get active and minimise the amount of hours spent sitting.
Majority of the global workforce perform jobs that require them to sit at desks, for upwards of twelve (12) hours a day. Our jobs can become so consuming that four (4) or more hours would pass without us knowing. Professionals, such as programmers and writers, can easily spend twice that amount of hours before taking a break from their tasks. In addition, to their desk time, workers will spend even more time sitting while commuting to work.
Greater risk of living a shorter time span
In recent times, and with greater health costs, health organisations and governments are making a bigger effort to inform people about the risks of sitting too much or leading a sedentary lifestyle. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle are more at risk of living a shorter time span than those who are active and exercise often. These findings are confirmed by the American Medical Association (AMA), who promotes that sitting “can be bad for personal health.”
Greater risk for developing diseases
It has been long believed that people who are less active are at greater risk for developing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and depression. Cardiologists are now saying that a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, on the same level as smoking. It has been found that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to The Heart Foundation, “about 720,000 people in the United States of America suffer heart attacks each year. Of the 720,000 people, 515,000 of them had their first heart attack.”
Greater risk of Obesity
People, who find themselves sitting too much, often suffer from obesity, because they spend little to no time engaging in exercise or frequent movement. Over the years, obesity has been gradually on the rise, with many countries, including the US, launching national campaigns. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) conducted their annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; their findings were astounding.
According to their website, “more than two (2) in three (3) adults are considered to be overweight or obese and more than one (1) in three (3) adults is considered to be obese.” Worldwide, two (2) billion people over 18 years are overweight and another 600 million are categorized as obese. In order to mitigate these trends, doctors are advising their patients to exercise more and spend less time sitting at their desks.
Greater risk of chronic ailments such as back, neck and shoulder pain
While back, neck and shoulder pain is highly evidenced in people who are active; it has been noted that more than 20% of these cases are from work related incidents. People who sit for greater periods of time, put more pressure on their spines, as a result this takes a toll on their backs and eventually leads to improper sitting posture. As such, forty percent (40%) of those who work a desk job come away with back pain complaints.
Coupled with these complaints are neck strain and sore shoulders, which is derived from having to hold your neck and head forward while working at a computer. Your muscles are used to flexing and contracting. This helps them to keep lubricated and prevent stiffness. The more time spent sitting, the greater the risk of developing posture problems, back problems and other muscle strains.
Greater risk of Muscle Degeneration
The more we move, the more flexible we are and so the converse is true. The less we move about, the more limited our range of motion. People, who sit more often than they move about, often develop weak abdominal muscles. Our muscles are exercised or contracts when we stand. They are not used during prolonged sessions of sitting. Another risk is a decrease in hip mobility. This is usually seen in seniors, but has become even more prevalent in people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Greater risk of leg problems
Many people are familiar with swollen ankles from sitting at a desk all day. This is caused by poor circulation. It can also lead to other issues such as varicose veins, and blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The more we engage in weight bearing activities, the stronger and denser our muscles become. People who sit more often will find that they lose strength in their leg muscles and run the risk of developing weak bones and even osteoporosis.
Greater risk of brain drain
People, who are active, engage their brains in different experiences. This is good for the brain cells and tissues because it transports more blood and oxygen, which is essential for healthy brain cells. This further enhances the release of brain and mood enhancing chemicals. However, those who live a sedentary lifestyle will feel the effects of a shortage of these mood enhancing chemicals. That is why people, who are depressed, tend to stay at home more and prefer to close away by themselves. This is also noted during winter months, when people are forced to stay inside and might suffer from seasonal depression.
Doctors are encouraging people who lead a sedentary lifestyle to exercise more often. Recently, there are has been more and more Smartphone applications that encourage people to get up from their desks and take more breaks. There has also been the invention of a treadmill desk that allows the user to walk while working at a computer station. Many companies are analysing their workers health claims and are implementing new strategies to counteract the sedentary lifestyle diseases.
About the Writer
Poetess Denise N. Fyffe is a published author for more than six years and enjoys volunteering, counseling and teaching. You can read more of her work atwww.theislandjournal.com
Copyright © 2016 · All Rights Reserved · Denise N. Fyffe