Sitting Disease

Original Editor - Ruchi Desai Top Contributors - Ruchi Desai and Kim Jackson

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Sitting disease may not sound like something to worry about, but in reality, it could be one of the biggest health issues many of us face. And the fourth leading risk factor for mortality throughout the world is being physically inactive. James A. Levine, (2018) has said “Sitting is the new smoking”[1][2][3]

‘Sitting Disease’ It’s nothing but a condition in which people spend just three hours of the day standing as the rest of the hours go for sitting and sleeping. if this continues for long the results can be disastrous.  specially during this Covid 19 pandemic, Lockdown brought with it Work from Home (WFH) which has forced people to be constantly glued to their computer screens not just for work but for movie/TV series.

When it comes to sitting disease and a sedentary lifestyle, it can be difficult to combat. For example, individual may spend eight hours or more a day sitting because of your job.

What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle?[edit | edit source]

A sedentary lifestyle means that you don’t get enough physical activity regularly.[4] Sedentary behavior is defined as any waking behavior such as sitting or leaning with an energy expenditure of 1.5 metabolic equivalent task (MET) or less . This definition, proposed by the Sedentary Behavior Research Network in 2012, is currently the most widely used definition of sedentary behavior. Some examples of sedentary behavior include television viewing, playing video games, using a computer, sitting at school or work, and sitting while commuting[5]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes of more vigorous exercise.[6][7]

However, the World Health Organization says 60 to 85% of the population of the world doesn’t get enough physical activity[8][7].

Physical activity is any kind of movement as simple as standing, walking for a few steps etc. Whereas Sedentary behaviour involves little to no movement.

What’s hard to understand with this topic is the fact that even if you’re exercising every day, you can still be sedentary. For example, maybe you exercise thirty minutes or an hour every day but if apart from that time you’re spending the rest of your time sitting or lying down, you still have a sedentary lifestyle.

Technology has contributed almost entirely to the shift toward sedentary lifestyles for many people[9]. Yes, technology makes life and even work more convenient, but that can come at a cost to our health.

How Does a Sedentary Lifestyle Affect Your Body?[edit | edit source]

  • Legs and gluteal (bum muscles): Sitting for long periods can lead to weakening and wasting away of the large leg and gluteal muscles.
  • Hips and back: Sitting causes your hip flexor muscle to shorten, which can lead to problems with your hip joints. It can also cause problems with your back, especially if you consistently sit with poor posture or don’t use an ergonomically designed chair or workstation.
  • Weight:  burning fewer calories and metabolism may slow down, making it more challenging for body to break down sugar and fat
  • Anxiety and depression: it also affects our mental health. For example, if you don’t get enough physical activity during your day, it can make it tougher to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
  • Cancer: Research also shows that high levels of body fat can cause chronic inflammation and it can then attack the cells of our body and cause DNA damage that leads to cancer.[5]
  • Heart disease: Sitting for long periods has been linked to heart disease.[5]
  • Diabetes: Studies have shown it increased insulin resistance in body, this will cause blood sugars to   increase above what is healthy[5]
  •   Varicose veins and Deep vein thrombosis[10]
  •  Stiff neck and shoulders: To long time hunched over a computer keyboard, this can lead   to pain and  stiffness in neck and shoulders[2].
  •   Bones can also become weaken.
  • Chronic Fatigue: Sitting for long periods of time causes energy levels to plummet as blood flow decreases. Blood sugar levels also increase (also called hyperglycemia) when inactive, which can cause chronic fatigue, especially in diabetics.[11]

Certain Tips to Save Health From the Dangers of Sitting[edit | edit source]

  1. Stand More[12]:
    standing up more frequently is a good way to break up our workday and even try to get more active at home.
    A good place to start is alternating between sitting and standing every thirty minutes this is easy and we can do it throughout your workday.
    Additional easy tips for incorporating into our life at home include:
    • keep set of light hand weights wherever you typically watch TV. You can lift them and incorporate them into your routine.:* You can perform some stretching while you’re watching TV.[13]
    • Try to make time to walk around your neighborhood every day and you can use it as a time to reconnect with your spouse at the end of the day or be outside with your kids. Use it as a time to relax and unwind.
    • Pace while you text, talk on the phone, or respond to emails.  
    • You can also try indoor activities such as: Dancing, swimming at an indoor pool, yoga, Pilates, and many more activities.
  2. Get more active at workplace[14]:
    Your workplace is probably where you spend a large chunk of your life, and it may also be where you’re almost entirely sedentary. #:Stand up every thirty minutes, and try to walk around your office at least once every hour.
    • Stand when you talk on the phone.
    • Use your break to take a walk, even if it’s only a few minutes.
    • Walk with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room
    • Take your lunch break away from your desk and enjoy a short walk outside if you can.
    • Organize walking meetings.
    • Park further away from wherever you’re going and walk the rest of the way
  3. Other ways to break your sedentary lifestyle [15]
    • Wear an activity tracker which reminds you for doing activity if you become sedentary for longer duration. Eg: now a days many people are using smart watch which gives reminder at every hour to get up and move while working on computer.
    • Move your body as soon as you wake up every day
    • Try home workouts
    • Regularly play music in your house because music gives you energy and encourages you to move
    • Cook more of your own meals
    • Plant a garden: a reason to get up and head outside so you can take care of it.
    • When you go inside a store, take a lap around the perimeter before you start shopping

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Being sedentary has become an unfortunate by product of the convenience afforded to us by technology and a modern lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be your reality. Be conscious about the level of physical activity you get each day, and find creative but attainable ways to move your body more each and every day, whether you’re at home or work.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Vallance JK, Gardiner PA, Lynch BM, D'Silva A, Boyle T, Taylor LM, Johnson ST, Buman MP, Owen N. Evaluating the Evidence on Sitting, Smoking, and Health: Is Sitting Really the New Smoking? Am J Public Health. 2018 Nov;108(11):1478-1482. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304649.
  2. 2.0 2.1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Park, J. H., Moon, J. H., Kim, H. J., Kong, M. H., & Oh, Y. H. Sedentary Lifestyle: Overview of Updated Evidence of Potential Health Risks. Korean journal of family medicine(2020);41(6):365–373.
  7. 7.0 7.1
  10. Frederick N. Brand, Andrew L. Dannenberg, Robert D. Abbott, William B. Kannel, The Epidemiology of Varicose Veins: The Framingham Study, American Journal of Preventive Medicine(1988);4(2):96-101, ISSN 0749-3797.
  14. 5 Tips for Avoiding the Sedentary Lifestyle (