A large percentage of adult population, women in particular, have jobs that require us to be seated at our desks or workstations for eight hours per day, 5 days per week. This article outlines ways in which your health is affected due to sitting for too long and how you can stay healthy while still doing your desk job.
When we do get up, the breaks are pretty short - for example, going to the washroom or going by the printer. However, at the end of the work day, we feel worn out both physically and mentally so the idea of doing any exercises or stretches hardly crosses our minds when clocking out after a shift ends.
What many people do not realize is that this level of inactivity can be damaging to our health, especially as we get older. Human bodies are designed to be active and only require a few hours of rest to recoup and get back to work.
Ways in which your health is affected due to sitting for too long and how you can stay healthy while still doing your desk job.
How Your Health is AFFECTED by Sitting All for Long Hours
Sitting down for too long affects many organs in your body.
The pancreas, for example, produces increased amounts of insulin when the body is inactive for too long. This can lead to the cropping up of several diseases, the main one being diabetes. This is why inactivity is known to be a huge risk factor for diabetes.
Regular body movement is known to encourage the production of antioxidants in the body to deactivate rogue or foreign molecules called free radicals. Though some amount of free radicals are important for proper functioning of the body and are actually created naturally due to bodily processes such as metabolism, a high concentration can lead to the a weakening of the immune system, cancer and many other illnesses.
Therefore, it is not only important to ingest antioxidants from our foods but also get adequate exercise to release and activate the ones naturally produced by our bodies.
Blood flow is another thing that is affected when one is inactive for too long. When blood flows slowly, the rate at which muscles burn fats is also affected adversely and makes it easier for fatty acids to clog your heart. Sub optimal blood flow also prevents organs from performing their best because enough oxygen and nutrient rich blood is not being supplied to them on a consistent basis.
When one is inactive, the elimination of excess minerals such as calcium is also affected. The buildup of calcium in the body causes the heart to work harder than it should, and it also results in high blood pressure, which can lead to more serious complications such as heart or kidney disease.
Loss of Brain Power
You may be doing multiple tasks while seated at your desk such as using your critical thinking skills to tackle various types of problems.
This, however, does not mean your brain is being stimulated. Being inactive slows down the flow of blood all over the body. Your brain gets less oxygen and fresh blood, and that makes it foggy.
Oxygen and fresh blood are also huge factors for the release of mood-enhancing chemicals and hormones, which can help to reduce stress.
Exercising or being on the move activates the muscles and you basically use them to do everything. Even walking activates muscles you may not be aware that you are using.
For example: next time you’re walking somewhere.. anywhere, touch the middle of your back. You’ll feel the muscles in your back moving with each step.
Sitting for too long makes your muscles to relax, and when this happens on a consistent, extended basis, they become weak. As a result, basic activities like standing or squatting become hard.
Walking can also become a problem because the hip muscles will become stiff, and the range of motion will be affected.
Obesity is common among people who are inactive.
Basically, weight gain occurs when you’re eating more calories than your body uses - also called a caloric surplus. The body then converts the extra energy from the food into fat cells.
The worst part is that someone who sits for eight hours daily hardly notices they are gaining weight. Many women can put on 10-15 pounds easily and not notice, especially those on the taller side.
By the time such a fact comes to their attention, they will probably be too lazy to do anything about it or succumb to accepting it because they are too tired to exercise at the end of the day.
Another reaction, however, is that they may start to follow overly strict or unhealthy diets in an effort to the lose the weight; potentially doing more harm than good.
Poor Circulation in the Legs
Blood circulation in the legs is adversely affected when one sits for extended periods. If the flow is affected more often, fluids pull in the legs. This can lead to blood clots and swollen ankles and deep vein thrombosis is one of the dangerous outcomes.
The blood clots present as a result of the condition can travel in the bloodstream and lodge themselves in the lungs. Swollen legs also make it impossible or painful for one to walk.
Most people do not know that the way they sit at a desk has a great impact on their necks and backs. Normally people hold their heads forward while working at computers, and this tends to put a strain on their necks and spines. Frequent straining results in your back and shoulders being sore.
The discs in your back become compressed and lose flexibility when you sit for long hours. Also, there is an increase in the chances of you getting herniated discs. You could end up having a permanently arched back or years. Many senior citizens tend to walk while bending their backs because of sitting for long hours every day.
Sitting down for eight hours on consecutive days means that you eat while you sit or have to sit back at your desk as soon as you are done with your meal. It causes the digestion of food to slow down because the contents of the stomach will be compressed. Slow digestion of food can result in heartburns, cramping, constipation, and bloating.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Get A Check Up
One of the first things you should do after reading this article is get a check up. Your doctor will check things such as your blood pressure and blood sugar to ensure they are not out of control.
If your blood pressure, for example, is elevated but not yet a cause for immediate concern, your doctor may suggest decreased salt intake, increased exercise and some home remedies to help bring it under control.
If your blood pressure is a cause for concern, however, your doctor may put you on medication and check if you any of your vital organs have been damaged.
Take the Stairs
The temptation to take the lift when you get to work or in the evening when you are going back to your apartment can be overwhelming. Decide to put your health first every day and take the stairs. Those few minutes of an increased heart rate have a significant impact on your health and they add up over time.
Take a Stroll after Lunch
Divide your lunch break into two parts. Enjoy your meal during the first part and take a walk in the second part.
You do not have to walk far. It could be walking around the office building a couple of times or up and down a few blocks. You can even visit a friend in another department just to catch up for a few minutes.
This small, quick walk will reduce blood sugar levels, and digestion will take place more efficiently.
Adopt a Good Posture
Do your research and figure out what is the right way to sit at the desk while working. There are books written about good posture, and thanks to the internet, you can be able to get the information in the blink of an eye. Try practicing it every day while at work. The key here is to be patient. Do not expect to adopt a good posture just as soon as you learn about it. It is a habit, so it will take time to master.
As much as sitting contributes to weight gain, what you put in our mouth also matters. You can decide to eat more of the foods that aid in the digestion process and also beneficial to the body’s organs.
Also, try to minimize your intake of processed foods since they contribute to weight gain, blood pressure and overwork organs like the kidneys. You should also increase your water intake to help keep your body hydrated and also improve digestion.
Join a Gym or Yoga Class
Exercising on a regular basis will help keep your heart pumping at a reasonable rate and blood flowing at a steady pace all over the body.
Get a trainer who will encourage you to keep going no matter how you feel. Also, encourage your friends to join in so that you can keep each other motivated. Conclusion
Regardless of the type of job you have, you should always try to keep your health in check.
An eight-hour desk job is a gift and a curse of modern living. We don’t have to expend as much physical energy, or spend long hours in the sun but the health risks of the sedentary lifestyle should not be ignored.
In terms of exercise, every little adds up throughout the day; and if you’re a person that is usually tired after a long day, taking a quick 30 minute walk every morning before preparing for work is more than enough to mitigate the health risks of the daily 8 hours of sitting you will do almost every day.
Regardless of the type of job you have, you should always try to keep your health in check.
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