If you happen to work in an environment where you’re forced to sit all day in front of a computer, you may want to keep reading (and then, perhaps go for a quick stroll if possible). Although scientists are unclear of the exact reason of its detrimental impact to our health, several studies have shown many harmful effects that excess sitting has on the body. Read on to see why some claim that “sitting is the new smoking.”
Lowers mental health
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a study conducted in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010 found that middle-aged women who sat for longer than seven hours a day without physical activity were more likely to have depressive symptoms than those who sat less than or equal to four hours a day and who met physical activity guidelines.
What you can do: To counter feelings of anxiety or negativity, step outside for lunch and take in your natural surroundings. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
Not just mental, the adversities of a sedentary lifestyle take a toll on the physical body as well. The British Journal of Sports Medicine states, “Even if a person completes the recommended daily 30 minutes of exercise, the amount of time spent sitting in the day still substantially affects mortality risk.” (Wilmot et al, 2012, Diabetologia)
What you can do: Realise that just staying active while sitting can be beneficial. Fidget around or look into ergonomic chairs or standing desks if it’s in your (or your company’s) budget.
A study conducted in 2010 by the Global Burden of Disease came to the conclusion that work-related low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Poor posture and improper ergonomic setups can be attributed to back pain.
What you can do: Stretching, taking regular walk breaks and modifying your setup are key.
The more your body adapts to reduced physical activity, the slower your metabolism rate and fewer calories burned. Experts recommend exercising at least 2 and a half hours a week at moderate intensity or 75 minutes a week at a vigorous level.
What you can do: Though the times above don’t seem very far-fetched, there are simple ways to increase your exercise. Opt for takeout rather than delivery, even if it means walking a mile down the block. Instead of the elevator, use the stairs. Rather than messaging your co-worker over chat, walk over to their desk–-anything you can do to be more active.