Fibion Blog • Why sitting is bad for your health? Read three reasons. • Arto Pesola
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Why sitting is bad for your health? Read three reasons.

Fibion.com-Why too much sitting is so bad for your health? Read three reasons.

Why sitting is bad for your health? Read three reasons.

Perspective from under your skin

What exactly is so unhealthy about sitting that this daily habit of ours has caused significant interest during the past years? When you sit down in your comfortable office chair or onto your sofa at home, your body shifts into a resting state, and blissful serenity fills your mind. Your coffee cup steams on the table and you close your mind to all external stressors. This moment is yours; you can finally focus on yourself without interruption. On the surface, everything looks perfect, but the reactions under your skin deserve the chance to tell you their perspective about this already familiar story.

1. Sitting is passive

While you sit, the large posture supporting muscles of your body are passive. Your thigh muscles hang loosely on the seat of your chair and your glutes melt into the cushions. Since there is virtually no activation of your muscles, virtually no energy is being expended either. When we sit for prolonged periods of time in the car, at the office, or on our home sofa, the cumulative time spent with limited energy expenditure significantly increases our risk for overweight and obesity. The nutrients that are circulating in our blood pile up on our waistlines over the years because passive muscles do not need nutrients!

While you sit, the large posture supporting muscles of your body are passive.

2. Sitting is an awkward posture

Sitting, the posture, is also not exactly great for our bodies. If you sit in a regular office chair your thighs and your body are perpendicular to each other although the typical range of motion is one third smaller. A chair forces our body into a strange and hunched over posture that results in a chain-reaction in which the back is curved, the back muscles are stressed, and the spine is loaded unevenly. As the back is curved, your head hangs in front of the body and is at the mercy of your neck muscles. The risk for back problems as well as neck and shoulder problems increases.

While sitting alone is not a risk-factor for back problems, sitting for a long period of time can cause back problems and make current back problems worse. The primary reason for this is that sitting is a static action in which the back muscles and the spine are under a great deal of pressure. Even worse, many of us naturally hunch over in our chairs into a position that stretches the back muscles and load the back even more. In fact, most lower back pain is the result of stressing the back muscles in a poor way.

The longer we sit, the more likely it is that our posture deteriorates. Try to sit in an office chair with good posture for a number of hours. In my opinion, it is impossible. It is much better to take some breaks from sitting!

The longer we sit, the more likely it is that our posture deteriorates.

3. We are sitting too much

The most important reason for the health hazards of sitting is the fact that we are sitting the most of our days. On average, adults are sitting 9–11 hours per day, which is even more than we are sleeping! The health risks of sitting start to increase exponentially when the daily sitting time exceeds 8 hours per day. Would it be time to stand up from your chair?

The most important reason for the health hazards of sitting is the fact that we are sitting the most of our days.

What group do you belong to?

Under 6 hours per day

Congratulations, you are very active in your daily life! Your total time spent sitting is a lot less than the average population. Remember to take care of yourself and to rest now and then so that you can fully recover from your high level of daily physical activity.

6-8 hours per day

Your total time spent sitting is acceptable from a health standpoint. You keep you bod active throughout the day. Remember to take breaks from sitting and keep performing other exercise as well.

8-10 hours per day

Your total time spent sitting is quite high and is a risk to your health. Remember to take breaks from sitting, if at all possible decrease your time spent sitting to keep active throughout your day. The vast majority of Westerners fall into this category.

Over 10 hours per day

Your total time spent sitting is very high and is a clear health risk because your body is passive for most of the day. You will benefit greatly by decreasing your time spent sitting and taking breaks from sitting throughout the day

The effects of sitting on our bodies minute-by-minute

As soon as you sit down

  • Activation of large muscle groups that support posture stops. Your body slowly shifts from an active state to a resting state.
  • Energy expenditure decrease to almost resting levels.

2 hours of sitting

  • After eating blood sugar is 45 % higher than when walking slowly.

4 hours of sitting

  • Circulating lipoprotein lipase (an enzyme that “suctions” fat into the muscles to be used for energy) and “good” HDL cholesterol levels decrease dramatically. *

5 hours of sitting

  • Insulin function has decreased by 30 % and glucose uptake into the muscles is further impaired.
  • The genes of seventy-five cells related to cardiovascular disease risk have been influenced. The activity of these genes was kept at a healthy level by taking small breaks from sitting every 20 minutes.

12 hours of sitting

  • Lipoprotein lipase activity has decreased by 90 % in comparison to days including standing and walking. *
  • 121 genes that are specifically involved in cellular metabolism have decreased in function by up to 20 times. *
  • Insulin function has decreased 40 % when compared to a day that includes a lot of standing.

* measured in animal studies

Arto Pesola
Arto Pesola

Everyday Activity Scientist

Partner

Fibion Inc.

PhD in Exercise Physiology, Author of the 'Revolution of Natural Exercise' book

Some years ago, I was asked about my future plans. Without much of thinking I replied: “I want to make the world a better place where people don’t need to sit so much”. This spontaneous answer was the leading light to finish my PhD degree and forward to new business opportunities in health technology aiming at making life healthier - with less sitting. For my blog posts, I have used material from my book "Luomuliikunnan vallankumous" (engl. The revolution of everyday activity) (Fitra 2014).



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