We drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home and watch television — that’s all sitting time and it’s bad for health.
According to the American Heart Association, Americans spent about 38 hours per week
sitting in 2009 compared to only 26 hours in 1965. This rise in sedentary behavior, along with a decrease in the amount of time spent performing a moderate-to-vigorous activity, has been linked to several health issues including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and back pain.
According to Time Magazine, the body needs energy to power individual cells, break down and digest food, and create “activity energy” which can be divided into active exercise and Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). The last type, NEAT, includes all of the energy used for required movements throughout the day like walking or even typing at a desk.
Sitting for extended periods of time lowers the amount of NEAT energy needed throughout the day which starts to turn off processes that burn calories and turn on the ones that build fat. Inactivity, especially around meals, leads to muscles that aren’t soaking up glucose from the food and become more insulin resistant. This resistance causes the body to release more and more insulin which can lead to diabetes over time.
As if problems with weight gain and heart disease weren’t enough, the Washington Post also points out that sitting can lead to a whole host of other issues in the body related to pain and overall fitness because of the position of the body. The hips, for instance, remain unextended for long periods of time and can become tight with a limited range of motion along with weakened glutes. This decreased range is a primary reason why the elderly are prone to falling. Similarly, the position can cause poor circulation in many areas of the body such as legs, spinal discs, and the brain.