Excessive Sitting Damages Blood Vessels
By Lindsay Sibson
“Next episode playing in… 3, 2, 1.”
No other four words have the power to keep you still for HOURS on end! So much so that “binge watching” has now made its way into your vocabulary.
Whether you are sitting at a desk all day or enjoying a Netflix session after work, excessive sitting can have a drastic and negative effect on your health.
Your kids are also at risk as studies show that children sit an average of 8.5 hours per day.
Sitting too much constricts the blood vessels in your legs, raises your blood pressure and disrupts your blood flow.
3 Straight Hours Of Sitting Is Enough To Reduce Cardiovascular Function
A study was conducted in which girls were evaluated after 3 hours of sitting. Each participant had healthy arterial function at the start, but after sitting for a long period showed signs of reduced vascular function.
The study also found that:
- Arterial dilation fell by 33% in the girls (even a 1% decline is known to increase your risk for heart disease).
- When sitting was interrupted by 10 minutes of gentle movement (cycling), there was NO decline in vascular function.
Why You (And Your Kids) Should Strive To Sit Less Than 3 Hours A Day
One average, adults spend 9 to 10 hours a day sitting, which may seem normal because let’s face it, it’s just what most people do. Yet, this amount of sitting is dangerous for your body and is the opposite of what your body is designed to do.
You are meant to MOVE your body frequently throughout the day and when you fail to do so, significant negative changes take place in your body.
Not only does sitting for long periods damage your blood vessels, but it also affects your ENTIRE body – from head to toe!
Here is how excessive sitting damages your body:
- Heart: Blood flows slower and your muscles burn less fat when you are sitting, which makes it easier for fatty acids to clog your heart.
- Pancreas: Excess sitting causes your pancreas to produce an increasing amount of insulin, which can lead to diabetes.
- Cancer: Regular exercise boosts antioxidant levels in your body that help to eliminate cancer-causing free radicals.
- Digestion: A seated position compresses your abdomen, slowing digestion and can also lead to cramping, bloating, constipation, or heartburn.
- Brain Damage: Your brain function slows and gets less oxygen and fresh blood when you sit for long periods.
- Strained Neck And Shoulders: It’s common to hold your neck forward when looking at your phone or computer. This strains you vertebrae and can cause tension and soreness.
- Back Problems: The disks in your back are designed to expand and contract in order to absorb blood and nutrients. When you are seated, your spine is compressed and limits this absorption.
- Muscles: Standing requires you to engage your muscles while sitting does NOT. Inactivity weakens your muscles.
- Hip Problems: Sitting causes your hips to become tight and decreases your range of motion. This issue can cause you to fall or become imbalanced.
- Varicose Veins: Sitting causes poor circulation in your legs, which causes swelling, varicose veins, or even blood clots.
- Weak Bones: Lack of body movement can lead to weak bones and even osteoporosis.
Standing Desks May Benefit Kids And Adults
When children are forced to sit still for unusually long periods of time (such as during the school day), it can cause them to become fidgety and restless.
Studies have shown that when standing desks are implemented in the classroom:
- Students report that they feel more focused.
- May boost HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Using a standing desk for three months can lead to losing weight.
- People who use standing desks say that they have less fatigue, tension, confusion and depression and more energy, vigor, focus and happiness.
Regular Movement Is Crucial For Staying Healthy
It’s time to get up and get moving! As you reduce the amount of time you are sitting, it is important to not only stand up, but also MOVE your body.
People who got up and walked around for 2 minutes every hour increased their lifespan by 33% as compared to those who did not.
Make it your goal to walk a total of 7,000 – 10,000 steps per day ( 3-5 miles). This can easily be tracked with a pedometer
Follow these other simple tips to promote movement throughout your day:
- Organize your office to have items spaced apart so that everything isn’t “within your reach.” This will force you to stand up to get the stapler, answer the phone, print something, etc.
- Use an exercise ball for a chair. This will engage your muscles while improving your balance.
- OR use a wooden chair without arm rests. This will encourage you to sit up straight and shift your body weight from time to time.
- Set a timer to remind you to GET UP every hour for at least 2 minutes. Take a little walk, stretch and move around to get your blood flowing.
Tips For Keeping Your Kids Moving, Too!
- Set a limit for the amount of “screen time” your child has each day (TV, phone, computer, tablet, etc.).
- Encourage movement through organized sports, active chores (raking leaves, taking out the trash, vacuuming), classes (dance/karate) and regular active play.
- Lead by example – as you MOVE more your children will observe this behavior and habit and will naturally follow your lead!
Big or small, old or young… EVERYONE benefits from reducing sitting time and increasing daily movement.
SHARE this article on your Facebook now and then get out there and take a walk in the beautiful fresh air!
Lindsay Sibson turned her lifelong dream of traveling the world into a reality when she first stepped on a plan in April of 2014. With the simple intention of learning more about this beautiful world, she stepped away from corporate America to explore an alternative lifestyle of long term international travel, volunteering, blogging and pursuing a blissfully happy and fulfilling way of life.
Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life. Connect with her on her website and follow her travels on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/_traveloholic_).
Through her blog, Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life.
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