We spend, on average, almost nine hours a day sat down – and that’s not taking into account the eight hours we spend lying down, asleep. You might be sat there thinking ‘not me’, but when you break your day down into time spent commuting, sitting at work, commuting back home again and sitting down to binge-watch a box set , it’s easy to see how we manage it.
But here’s the fact…our bodies aren’t designed for such lazy living, they’re designed to move.
“We can see this from the way our bodies are structured,” Mohamed Taha, clinical director at Form Clinic. “We are made up of 360 joints and over 700 muscles that move your skeleton. Our vascular and nervous systems depend on movement to function.”
To highlight the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the human body, over the next few days we’re going to release how sitting down all day impacts various organs and bodily systems.
Back And Shoulders
Many of us have felt the effects of sitting for long periods, especially on our back and shoulders. But why?
Taha explained: “The average person is not able to sit down for more than three minutes without falling into a slumped or ‘slouched’ posture. Over time, this creates wear and tear in your discs and joints, overworks your spinal ligaments and puts an enormous strain on your back muscles that are stretched to accommodate this slouched posture.
Additionally, if you are in front of a computer, it’s natural to hold your neck forward while concentrating, which can cause strain on the neck and shoulders. “
Legs And Hips
According to Dr Clare Morrison sitting down for long periods can “lead to muscle atrophy in the leg and gluteal areas, where the muscles weaken and waste away. Sitting also causes hip flexor muscles to shorten, leading to issues with hip joints.”
Another issue is that prolonged sitting can lead to poor circulation. This could lead to swollen ankles, varicose veins and even deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Heart And Cardiovascular System
Humans are built to stand up – and our heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively this way. “Too many of us are tied to our desks, and research shows that this could be increasing our risk of developing heart disease,” said Chris Allen at the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
A 2010 study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of a TV versus a group that spent more than four hours a day in front of one. It discovered an increase of about 125% in cardiovascular disease in the group that spent more time sitting down, as well as a 46% increased risk of death from other causes.
Additionally, research from the University of Chester in 2013 found that sitting down burns 21% fewer calories per minute than standing up – a solid case for investing in a stand-up desk.
“Long periods of sitting are also responsible for deactivating an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase,” added Taha, “which is responsible for the breakdown of fats in the blood vessels, and can lead to blockage of the blood vessels of your heart.”