Individuals sit for hours while commuting over long distances or at work. Sitting helps to conserve energy and a way to relax when tired. However, prolonged sitting has deleterious effects in the body. Researches have shown that sitting down for long periods have adverse health effects such as heart diseases, diabetes, and musculoskeletal strains. Therefore, prolonged sitting should be avoided because of these hazardous health effects. How much sitting is too much? Would you like to learn how to adjust your sitting habits?
This article will highlight the health dangers of sitting and strategies to minimize them especially at work.
EFFECTS OF PROLONGED SITTING
During protracted sitting, the large muscles in the lower limbs are inactive and this reduces metabolism. Also, there is a decline in muscular utilization of blood glucose in the body. As a result, the excess body glucose is converted to fats which deposit in the blood vessels. The accumulation of fat in the blood causes a plethora of health risks if left unchecked.
Heart diseases are have been linked with sitting down because of excess deposition of fats in blood vessels leading to their blockage. According to a study, up to 10% of respondents were discovered to have elevated blood cholesterol after prolonged sitting. Consequently, the person develops coronary arterial diseases depending on the degree of the vascular blockage i.e partial or total blockage. For instance, heart attack occurs when the heart blood vessels are completely blocked- when this happens, the individual experiences acute excruciating chest pain and difficulty in breathing.
Blood glucose is maintained by the hormone insulin which exerts its effects by increasing the absorption of glucose in target organs such as the Liver and skeletal muscles. Although, this action of insulin is reduced depending on the concentration of fats in the blood.
Hence, the accumulation of fats from prolonged sitting leads to insulin resistance thereby reducing the uptake of glucose from peripheral tissues. Type 2 diabetes mellitus develops because of this sustained insulin resistance in the body.
Accumulation of fats in the tissue spaces causes weight gain and eventually obesity.The blood level of bad cholesterol in people who sit for long is significantly raised and it is the causative factor in obesity-related medical disorders. Scientists have discovered that 60-75 minutes a day of moderate activity combats the dangers of sitting
Physical inactivity causes loss of muscular tone which leads to incessant muscular pains with little exertions. Also, postural falls occur when the limb muscles lose their tone. This happens more to office workers that have a poorly structured work-station.
HOW TO REDUCE THE HEALTH DANGERS OF SITTING
- Engage in regular exercises such as brisk walks during the course of your day. This reduces joint stiffness and pains.
- Divide long hours of work into short walking breaks.
- Use a standing desk to allow you to stand while working in your office
MANAGING PROLONGED SITTING IN THE WORKPLACE
Office workers can more susceptible to health dangers of sitting compared to blue-collar workers. There are strategies to manage prolonged sitting at work and they are:
- Use the staircase at work rather than using the elevator
- Walk to your colleague’s office to communicate with the person instead of calling or emailing.
- Set reminders to stand up at work every 1-2 hours.
- Keep key office materials far from your desk so that you can stand up to pick them.
- Take lunch break away from your desk.
- Keep your rubbish bins at some distance from you so that you stand up often to discard your trash.
- Stand up to read reports.
A BASIC OFFICE ERGONOMICS STRUCTURE
Ergonomics entails fitting the job to the worker to prevent recurrent occupational health injuries.
Working in a poorly designed office space increases the health risk of prolonged sitting. Here is a list of proper office ergonomic structure to foster your health:
- Height of your chair: Sit on an adjusted height that enables you to rest your feet on the floor. Also, the chair should have an armrest to keep your shoulder relaxed.
- Adjustable chair: Use an adjustable chair that allows you to maintain your knees and hips at the same level. This prevents recurrent low back pain from postural muscular strain.
- Adjustable desk: This allows you to stand at work after long hours of sitting by adjusting the height of your desk to a standing position.
- Computer monitor: Keep the screen distance at your arm’s length-to prevent you from overstretching your arm muscles to reach the screen.
In conclusion, you should limit sitting down for too long because of the numerous health risks such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and joint pains in the body. Lifestyle changes such as walking regularly, exercising and standing up frequently minimize the health dangers of sitting. Working in an ergonomically designed office space is recommended to promote your wellbeing at work.