For artistic Gen Xers, the desk job was the ultimate sign of failure. The death sentence. Rebellious rock and rollers and artists would claim that suicide was preferential, much to the dismay of their concerned parents. If those Gen Xers know how dangerous desk jobs were, they might have been more kindly disposed toward them.
You may have heard the currently circulating slogan, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Suddenly, every activity associated with excessive sitting, desk jobs included is labeled as not only unhealthy, but also dangerous. Rebellious Gen Xers may have a legitimate excuse! However, if you consider the new mantra, a little bit of an over exaggeration, judge for yourself.
Side effects of sitting for an extensive time period may include:
While you are sitting, your muscles are burning less fat and blood flow is slowing down, allowing fatty acids to clog the heart. Sitting too long can cause high cholesterol and blood pressure and chronic sitters are twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than more active people.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that carries glucose to cells, providing them with energy. When cells are idle, they don’t respond as well to insulin, causing the pancreas to produce more which can cause diabetes, among other diseases. In fact, according to a 2011 study, insulin response begins to decline after just one day of sitting.
When you slouch on a chair, your abdominal muscles go unused. That along with tight back muscles can create a condition called hyperlordosis, or swayback.
Your hips help you to keep balanced, but sitting calls for such few opportunities to stretch hip muscles, that they become tight, limiting range of motion.
You need to move your muscles to get blood and oxygen to your brain and trigger the release of mood-enhancing chemicals.
Craning your neck forward to type on a computer keyboard or cradling a phone while you type, while can strain your cervical vertebrae and causing posture imbalance.
As we move, discs between the vertebrae contract and expand soaking up nutrients and fresh blood. However, when we sit, these discs are squashed into uneven positions causing collagen to harden around ligaments and tendons.
Long periods of sitting slows blood circulation, causing the fluid in the leg to pool, resulting in everything from varicose veins and swollen ankles to dangerous blood clots.
Physical activity that incorporates the lower body stimulates hip and lower body bones to grow stronger. Hence, lack of activity can lead to decrease in bone density, and has even been attributed to cases of osteoporosis
What can we do?
If you are destined to sit behind a desk for long periods of time, there are some things you can do to keep from ending up hunched and unfocused. Here are some expert recommendations.
1. Sit on something wobbly. Sit up straight on an exercise ball or backless stool with your feet flat on the floor.
2. Stretch hip flexors. Once a day, three minutes easy side
3. By walking during commercial, couch potatoes can burn twice the calories of sitting, even at a pace of 1 mph.
4. Alternate between standing and sitting at your desk or workstation, or stand up and walk at regular intervals.
What do you think? Is sitting really the new smoking? Let us know! And tell us your strategies to give up the sitting habit.