Yes, I used a swear word. I may drop an F bomb from time to time, but I almost never swear on my blog. This time, I mean business. I’m learning the hard way that having a sedentary lifestyle can cause so many health issue. Even those that can kill you. This increase in sedentary work from home could be especially hazardous to your future.
Yes, I DO mean to scare you. I want everyone to hear these words and make movement part of their daily lives.
What is Sedentary Work?
According to the dictionary, the word sedentary means:
- characterized by or requiring a sitting posture: a sedentary occupation.
- accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise.
Why are we Doing More Sedentary Work?
Many of us have had to shift work to a home office. You’d think this would allow us to move more easily, but the countless hours of Zoom meetings and conference calls has us stuck at our desks more than ever. This sedentary work style can be quite hazardous to our health.
When we work outside the home, we use stairs, walk hallways, walk to lunch and coffee breaks, etc. At home, we tend to minimize these activities feeling more tied to one location to get work done.
My Sedentary Work Eye Opener
I was recently diagnosed with gallstones. I never had any symptoms until I had 24 hours of gallbladder attacks that were worse than childbirth. After two visits to the ER, I was hospitalized with the prognosis of an impending gallbladder removal. Fortunately, I was able to come out of the hospital without needing surgery. Unfortunately, they found another issue that requires more testing.
Now, I’m not saying that both of these things would NOT have happened just because I have been sedentary for a while (due to a back injury). But there is a much higher percentage of people who DO get similar issues because they ARE living a primarily sedentary lifestyle.
Sedentary Work Can Effect Your Heart
According to WebMD, Scientists followed two groups of people. The first group were transit drivers who sit most of the day. The second group were conductors or guards who don’t. Otherwise, their overall lifestyles were very similar. The group that sat were nearly two times as likely to get heart disease as those who stood. That certainly makes my heart skip a beat.
Sedentary Work Increased Your Chance to Getting Diabetes
Not only do you burn less calories by sitting, doctors have found that it’s the sitting itself that can lead to diabetes. While they are not 100% clear why, they suspect that sitting can change the way your body reacts to insulin. This is the hormone that helps your body burn carbs and sugar for energy.
Sedentary Work Can Effect Your Brain Power
I’ve definitely noticed a decrease in my cognitive function these stays. I stumble over words or forget what I was thinking. Sitting too much can actually make your brain look like someone with dementia. WHAT! Holy cow!
Sedentary Work Can Decrease the Healthy Effects of Your Exercise
Now this doesn’t mean your shouldn’t exercise, it means that you need to move more throughout the day and not just the 30-60 minutes you might be at the gym. Doctors recommend that we only sit still for 2-3 hours a day. Even a brisk march in place for 5-10 minutes every hour can help tremendously.
Sedentary Work Could Cause a Blood Clot
You may have heard about Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in folks who travel on long haul airplane trips. But this can happen what you sit for too long at home too. DVT is when a clot forms in your leg. It can be serious if this clot moves to your lungs. This is another reason why it’s good to break up long sessions of sitting.
Sedentary Work Can Cause Increased Anxiety
I never would have made this connection, but apparently sitting, especially working on computer screens can disrupt sleep patterns, which can cause you to be more anxious. Working from home is increasing our sense of being lonely and withdrawn as well. Call a friend or loved one every day to make sure you continue to feel connected and loved.
Sedentary Work is Horrible for Your Back
Since I have already have a back injury, sitting is especially hard on me. Sitting puts a huge stress on your neck, spine and muscles in your back. It’s exacerbated if you slouch. Get up and move around for a minute or two every half hour to keep your spine in line.
Sedentary Work Increases Your Risk of Cancer
This one was a big surprise to me. You are more likely to get digestive cancers like colon, liver and pancreatic cancer if you sit too much. You’re also at higher risk for lung cancer and breast cancer if you are a woman.
Tips to Get Moving
Hopefully the #1 takeaway you get from this post is to work more movement into your day. I love my Apple Watch because it actually has a build in “time to stand” alarm.
Experts recommend that you stand and stretch every half an hour. I really love doing some of these yoga poses.
Try to touch your toes, stroll around your house or office. Stand at your desk for part of the day. My husband has a desk that can confirm from sitting to standing height. I sometimes stand and use my laptop at our kitchen island. Talk to your boss about possibly getting a treadmill desk. I totally want to try this one.
All these things can help stop the negative effects of sedentary work and keep you on the road to better health and longevity. Don’t forget to eat healthy too. Many foods are known to help fight some of these health issues as well.