Although the age has passed where it was normal to advertise smoking and promote the use of tobacco, we have a new monster that is almost equally as harmful — sitting. In a society that is predominately based on ease of access, sitting is encouraged at every corner. From office chairs and comfy couches to massage chairs, people have become less active, and all the hospitality is actually having adverse effects on people’s health. Is sitting the new smoking?
For those of you who spend all day in a cubicle, it is time to make a change to prevent adverse effects like cancer, mental illness and heart disease. You might want to stand for this.
Laziness is cancerous
Even if you hit the gym every day and get your heart pumping, sitting for prolonged periods of time during the day can lead to different types of cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “the risk increased with each 2-hour increase in sitting time, 8 percent for colon cancer, 10 percent for endometrial cancer, and 6 percent for lung cancer.”
It is still not clear what it is about sitting that raises the risk of cancer. However, scientists have discovered that sitting down correlates directly with lower energy expenditure and bad habits like eating unhealthy foods and drinking soda.
Unhealthy heart, unhappy body
Cardiovascular disease is another one of many adverse effects caused by excessive sitting. According to the Mayo Clinic, a study was done that compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or another technological screen with those who completed more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those who sat more often had a 50 percent increased risk of death in general and a 125 percent increased risk of issues due to cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack. Because the human body needs movement and energy to survive and stay healthy, it makes sense why a sitting body that isn’t expending energy will be negatively affected.
Sitting more may also lead to heart issues in younger women, a group that usually does not have a high risk of heart disease or diabetes. According to a 2016 study published in Circulation, decreased amounts of leisure-time physical activity is associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease in women, regardless of weight.
An uphill mental battle
Not only does excessive sitting affect the body, but it also creates issues for one’s mental health, according to new research found by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They discovered information published by BMC Public Health that proves that activities like watching TV, working at a computer or playing video games for too long are all low-energy activities that are associated with an increased risk of anxiety.
Affecting more than 27 million people worldwide, anxiety is a mental health illness that not only affects the mind but can also have physical drawbacks like headaches and tense muscles. According to the AAAS, Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) had researchers analyze the results of nine studies that examined the association between lowenergy activities and anxiety, and five of them found a link between anxiety and sedentary behaviors. Take action and get active to avoid not only the physical, but also the negative mental effects of excessive sitting.
TRANSFORMING INTO A MOVING BODY
Anyone has the power to become a stand-up person. In a world where offices have stand-up desks, people wear fitness trackers daily and schools host standing classroom sessions, it should come as no surprise that every day there is some avenue you can take to help increase your movement. Here are some tips to stay fit, healthy and happy, and avoid being prone to diseases and heart issues.
- Take the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
- Stand while eating lunch and engaging in conversation, whether on the phone or in person.
- Try out a standing desk instead of a swivel chair.
- Go for a walk or a lap around the office every hour and a half.
- Hit the gym early in the morning before work to get a jumpstart on movement for the day.
- Take your dog for a long walk in the evening, and if you don’t have one, volunteer to take a friend’s!
- Have standing meetings.