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Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Sitting is Bad for Your Health, and What You Can Do About It

Mounting evidence shows that even if you work out regularly, sitting can be bad for your health.

Here's what happens to your body internally when you sit for long periods of time:
  • Muscles and joints become stiff and tight
  • Blood flow to the heart shows decreasing circulation
  • Insulin production drops leading to lack of energy
  • Hunger cravings set in causing unnecessary and/or unhealthy snacking
Externally, you may notice the effects of too much sitting in someone's weak posture or rounded shoulders and slightly bowed head- mimicking their form at a desk. This hunched position can even distress the lungs, limiting their ability to properly expand and take in air when breathing.

Is there anything you can do to offset these long hours spent in a chair?

A recent Indiana University study compared people who sat for three hours straight with others who got up and walked around for five minutes each hour. The constant sitters' circulation fell by half, while the walkers' circulation did not drop at all.

The important takeaway is that even small bits of activity interspersed with sitting are highly beneficial. For every hour that you sit, aim to take a break for at least five minutes and do the following: 
  • Run an errand in your building or office
  • Climb up and down a flight of stairs 
  • Flex your calves
  • Do neck rolls and shoulder stretches
  • Challenge a colleague to have a "walking meeting"
Also, consider sitting on an exercise ball while at your desk or even raising your desk to standing level so that your legs have more room to move. 

This article was adapted from Men's Journal

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