Sitting time: health problems caused by prolonged sitting
Those whose jobs require them to be seated for long periods of the day – such as office workers, bus drivers, call centre workers - are more at risk of cardiovascular disease than those with jobs that involve long periods of standing or travelling. Discover what can be done to reduce your amount of sedentary time.
In our age of high-powered smartphones, one-click e-commerce purchases and unlimited access to various media at the touch of a button have made our lives a whole lot more convenient. Lounging on the sofa watching TV or browsing the internet on an iPad may seem like a relaxing few hours but when it comes to the human body, our current tendency to sit for prolonged periods of time - at home and in the workplace - is having an adverse effect on our bodies.
Inactivity: the facts
Recent studies suggest that daily sitting time or low activity levels have a significant direct relationship with Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, obesity and even death. As we enter an age where convenience rules over exercise, the future could be dire for those who do not even partake in non-exercise activity, such as getting up for a glass of water or walking to the printer in an office.
Unfortunately, those with jobs that require being seated for long periods of the day are more at risk of ill health than those who incorporate more movement in their day.
Researchers in a in a study titled 'Walking compared with vigorous exercise for the prevention of cardiovascular events in women', researchers found that women who indulged in prolonged sitting were at significantly higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Other studies have highlighted that the risk of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that result in high risk of heart disease and other life-threatening conditions affecting blood vessels) increases in relation to time spent being sedentary. In particular, computer game addicts should pay attention as prolonged TV and game time can more than double the risk for metabolic syndrome.
Shockingly, a greater amount of time spent sedentary can increase the odds of metabolic syndrome by around 73 per cent.
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is also a dangerous medical condition caused by too much sitting. Potentially life-threatening, the condition involves blood clots developing in the veins deep within idle leg muscles. Well-known for its frequency during World War II, where many people sat unmoving for long periods of time in air-raid shelters, DVT is prevalent today in people on long-haul flights and – you guessed it – people who spend too much time sitting still in the office.
What should you do?
So, for those looking to reduce their sedentary time, what can be done?A study titled 'Employee Self-rated Productivity and Objective Organisational Production Levels', investigated how worksite health interventions can help reduce the effects of sitting down. It made a mandatory 2.5-hour reduction in participants' working hours which they used to engage in physical exercise.
The results were remarkable: work productivity increased significantly, with more quantities of work completed and fewer absences due to sickness. Research has proven that regular physical activity can ward off chronic disease and lower mortality rates. The key to achieving this, as it is with all aspects of our lifestyle, is to strive for balance.
Take control of your health by reviewing your daily schedule. How much movement do you achieve every day? Are there ways you can increase your activity by joining the gym, walking to the office or investing in a Wellness Ball™ that you can do simple exercises on? Think of physical activity as your daily dose of ‘medicine’ to treat current health issues and future problems. Envision your everyday health as a ‘battery’ that you can charge up constantly with activity, good food choices and positivity.