Health Problems Associated with Sitting

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From time to time, we all like to sit and take it easy. After a long day, it’s nice to sit and take in a favorite television program, or sit & spend time with family at the dinner table after a relaxing meal. However, too much sitting can be hazardous to your health.

Sitting for long periods can often lead to a variety of health issues. Excessive sitting has been linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, blood clots, high cholesterol and others. Blood clots, also called deep vein thrombosis, form in the legs due to poor circulation while sitting for long periods. This is a frequent problem for those who travel by air, and can have potentially fatal consequences if not treated promptly. The solution is simply to get up and move around with some frequency, increasing circulation. This is not always possible, so there are products and exercises designed to help. Flexing and pointing your toes, or bouncing your legs will help increase circulation. Compression stockings, readily available at your local pharmacy, will help prevent blood from pooling in the lower legs. Blood thinners may be prescribed by your physician if you are at risk for clotting.

According to an article published in the European Heart Journal, researchers examined the relationship between sedentary sitting, and sitting with frequent breaks, concluding that multiple short breaks of as little as one minute could reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.  Interestingly, people who exercised frequently however, also exhibited lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and higher levels of inflammation and triglycerides due to sedentary sitting.

According to studies from the Mayo Clinic, prolonged sitting greatly increases the risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Researchers found a cluster of problems including high blood sugar, high blood pressure and increasing body fat in subjects who habitually sit for extended periods. A study compared subjects who spent two hours or less per day watching television, with those spending four hours or more, and found the latter were at a 50% greater risk of death resulting from complications due to diabetes and obesity. The study determined that any type of sitting for long periods, such as at work or while driving, can have significant impact. As in previous studies, researchers again concluded that even those who exercise frequently, are also at risk.

The good news is the key to avoiding these potential health hazards is to simply get up and move. While at work, get up to speak with a colleague rather than phoning him. Conduct stand up, or walking meetings whenever possible. Researchers believe movement triggers processes that break down sugars and fats in our bodies, so when we stop moving, these processes slow and stop as well, increasing our risk of poor health. The key to good health is to get up, get moving and get busy… today… now… Why are you still sitting there?

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