We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
We all know a sedentary lifestyle isn’t the healthiest but do you know the risks are associated with it? I’ll admit, after doing research for this post I took a break and went to the gym! I try my best to stay active, but there are even more small steps I can take to improve my health and prevent risks that come with a desk job.
What are the Risks?
According to Scientific American, we sit for most of our waking hours at an average of 13 hours a day. 18 studies have shown that our constant sitting leads to increased risk of death due to the health issues that come with it. Being idle slows down your metabolism, which decreases how much food your body converts to energy. This leads to fat accumulation and can cause heart disease, diabetes, and many other ailments that come with being overweight.
Diabetes & Heart Disease
Researchers at the University of Leicester Departments of Health Sciences and Cardiovascular Sciences have found that people who sit all day increase their chances of developing type 2 diabetes. The more you sit, the more glucose builds up in your blood so that it becomes very fatty.
The University of Colorado also found that “unused muscles not only atrophy but also shift from endurance-type muscle fibers that can burn fat to fast-twitch fibers that rely more strongly on glucose…With the muscles relying more on carbohydrates for what little work they are doing, unburned lipids accumulate.”
If during an 8 hour-work day (not including commute time), we are sitting most of the day, you can only imagine how little calories we are burning. Especially if we are constantly snacking and eating meals at our desk. Our body is forced to store energy since it’s not being used. Working out at the end of your work day is certainly beneficial, but it may not completely make up for the 8-10 hours you spend sitting during the day. No wonder so many of us struggle with our weight!
Sitting for long periods of time also increases the risk of getting varicose veins. This condition affects about 50% of women and can cause painful symptoms. As you sit during the day, your veins have to work against gravity to pump your blood back to your heart. If you aren’t moving your muscles and helping with circulation, varicose veins are more likely to develop.
So What’s the Solution?
There’s good news for all of us! You don’t have to work out hard-core at the gym every day to combat the risks of sitting. Studies have found that just small bouts of movement throughout the day decreases all these health risks. This can be simply walking around your office during meetings, getting up to talk to your colleague rather than sending an email, standing up while working or using a treadmill desk.
In one study for a man struggling with diabetes, they found that strolling at less than 2 mph increased his energy expenditure by 200 calories/hr. In another treadmill desk study, people who used treadmill desks were reported to be slimmer, less stressed, and have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Surprisingly enough, you only need to burn 16 calories to decrease your blood glucose levels by 4 grams. Just a little bit of activity can significantly reduce the amount of glucose in your bloodstream.
Simply put, make a few small changes to your work day to increase the amount of time you get up, move around, and stand. You’ll be surprised at what a big difference it makes in your health!