You’ve surely seen the stories about how too much sitting can kill you and the other health concerns regarding a sedentary life. I know I have. But one thing I’ve been wondering about lately is why? What actually happens to your body when you spend prolonged periods sitting down in front of a screen or even doing nothing at all?
If you’re like me, knowing why something happens can shed a whole lot of light on why it’s detrimental to your health and knowing what’s happening to your body pushes you in the right direction to change your ways for the better.
So to understand the health concerns surrounding too much sitting, I started conducting some research. Here’s what I found…
Why a Sedentary Lifestyle Is Harmful to Your Health
Your body is designed to perform specific functions. Your metabolism is based on supplying energy to your cells, organs, and muscles to carry out various responsibilities. Sitting still, however, hampers these processes.
When you sit down, your muscles aren’t contracting and your metabolism basically enters a holding period, because you require very little energy. The muscles in your legs and core aren’t being used to keep you upright, your arms aren’t overly active (or grabbing at much aside from the remote or the keyboard)—your body is basically doing nothing at all. Other than performing basic pulmonary and cardiovascular functions, there really isn’t much going on.
Because the energy you consume (calories) isn’t really being put to use and your metabolism is at a standstill, it is often stored as fat. If your muscles aren’t contracting at all, they require zero energy. All of this can contribute to a larger waistline. Furthermore, because your heart is performing little more than the bare minimum of functions—as if you were sleeping—it can also become weaker and more susceptible to trauma, such as a heart attack.
More TV You Watch, the Greater Your Risk of Heart Disease
A 2010 study that I came across found that the more time a person spends watching television, the greater likelihood they are to die from not only heart disease but nearly any other cause, too. Compared to people who watched two hours of television or less per day, people who watched four hours or more were 80% more likely to die from heart disease and 46% more likely to die from any other cause. Each additional hour increased the risk of death from heart disease by 18% and overall death by 11%!
Furthermore, people who spend a lot of time sitting tend to have higher cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides. Likely, this is because they are not being absorbed and shuttled around the body, instead just sitting there, doing virtually nothing.
Humans are changing. Obesity is rampant in adults, children, and babies, while genetic alterations are taking place. Humans are releasing double the amount of insulin as they did 30 years ago from the same amount of glucose, and our bodies react differently than they used to. Perhaps it’s a form of evolution to compensate for our new metabolic demands—or lack thereof.
Your Life Depends on More Than Just a Few Hours of Exercise Per Week
Exercising for a few hours per week is not enough to combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Your body is designed for more and clearly has problems when it’s left inactive for extended periods. To offset the impacts of sitting still, you need to get up regularly, for maybe a few minutes every hour, contracting and using your muscles. Your life depends on it.
Also Read :
- Couch Potatoes, Beware! You Could Be Shortening Your Life
- Doing This at Work is Hurting Your Health
- How Where You Live Can Determine Your Health
Source for Today’s Article:
Dunstan, D.W., et al., “Television viewing time and mortality: the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study,” Circulation January 26, 2010; 121(3): 384–391, doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.894824.