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What is Sitting Disease & How to Prevent It

29 November 2023

Living a healthy life isn't easy. Right when you start getting used to eating your vegetables, you realize there's a hundred other ways you could be harming your body - sitting being one of them.

While it comes as a surprise to many people, sitting for long periods of time isn't just bad for your health, it can even be deadly. This is not very good news, especially since so many of us spend most of our day sitting - even if it's just out of necessity.

Experts call this sitting disease, not just because of all the time we spend sitting, but also the long list of symptoms and effects that sitting for such long stretches can have.

Of course, nobody actually wants to have poor health, so once you find out about sitting disease, you'd want to avoid it. But to do that, you'd have to understand what it is, what the symptoms and consequences are, and what changes to make in your life to prevent it.



What is Sitting Disease?

Sitting disease isn't a disease in the sense that you'd commonly think. When we think of disease we think of a problem in our bodies, like cancer or heart disease. But sitting disease is actually a consequence of how we've been living our modern day lives.

In the past, before all our technological advancements, we'd spend a lot more time walking or standing, and a lot less time sitting at our desks, or in front of the television. Instead of biking to work and plowing the fields, we sit in our cars and then spend our work day typing away at the keyboard.

Ironically, this article was also written while sitting, and chances are that you're reading this while sitting too. That's how prevalent sitting is in our lives!

Sitting disease isn't an inherent problem, but it is something that most of us probably have nowadays. When your body spends an hour or more without any activity, some of the key enzymes in our blood go to sleep. These enzymes are related to our metabolism, without which the fats and sugars in our bloodstream don't get processed, and we end up at risk of problems like weight gain, diabetes and low good cholesterol levels.

Sitting disease can therefore have some serious consequences. It's no longer about being called a couch potato, but also about whether or not you're putting your life at risk!

The good news is that these enzymes do become active again if your body becomes active. This means that you can prevent these enzymes from falling asleep by making sure you incorporate some kind of physical activity in your day within that 60-90 minute timeframe that these enzymes have.

That said, you can't expect the problem to go away by doing all your working out after you spend eight hours sitting. Of course, exercise is always important, but you should be making an effort to incorporate physical activity within your work day as well - that is, those eight hours you spend sitting should have breaks in between where you aren't sitting.



Symptoms of Sitting Disease

To recognize whether you have sitting disease, you need to know what the symptoms are. These are often covert, so you wouldn't necessarily even notice them until you face actual health consequences, which is why it's important to keep an eye out for the symptoms at all times.

Posture

You'd be surprised but sitting too long can actually affect your posture! Because your core muscles start getting weaker, sitting up straight becomes difficult. Bad posture just gets you caught in the cycle of more problems, because it results in other issues like nerve compression and muscle pain. It's very important to stand up and stretch every now and then.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is another issue that stems from sitting too much, though this one is more common. However, it's very easy to attribute weight gain to other things like having eaten too much. But if your weight seems to be increasing rapidly, it could be because of the way sitting disease slows down your metabolism.

Lethargy

We've established that sitting for long stretches can mess with your metabolism. But when metabolism slows down, so does the rest of your body. This means that your blood flow is also slower, while your blood sugar levels are high. As a result, you feel like you are constantly exhausted, even though you're not using up much energy.



Consequences of Sitting Disease

Sitting can do more than just tire you out and put you in pain though. There are some serious problems linked with prolonged sitting that should be considered.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is when your body is unable to convert the sugars in your food into energy. This means that blood sugar levels are high and your energy levels are low. Diabetes can also cause a whole host of other problems, from heart disease to nerve problems to even blindness!

Type 2 diabetes can be one of the major consequences of spending too much time sitting, especially if you don't get any other exercise during the day as well. In fact, research shows that every hour you spend sitting increases your risk of diabetes by about 20%

Cardiovascular Disease

Another major problem caused by sitting disease is that your heart health is put at risk. Heart problems can range from problems with the actual organ to problems with the blood vessels. Anything that affects your heart's ability to function normally falls under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease.

Because the slowed metabolism caused by sitting disease results in high levels of fat and low levels of good HDL cholesterol, there is a high chance of your blood vessels getting blocked because of fat and LDL cholesterol build up. This can cause problems with blood pressure, stamina and even result in a heart attack.

Clearly, the simple act of sitting isn't all that simple anymore. It could have some serious effects, and even put your life at risk.



Preventing Sitting Disease

With so many health risks that come with sitting, understandably you'd want to avoid it. Fortunately, the solution is quite simple: to avoid sitting disease, you can simply stand.

Research shows that standing can burn up to 50% more calories than sitting, while also preventing all the chronic diseases, pains and sprains that sitting can bring. Just like the simple act of sitting can harm you, the simple act of standing can save you.

However, it's not a very easy thing to do when you have to work. Most of us have desk jobs that require us to stay in one place - most often sitting. The good news is that the awareness around sitting disease has also resulted in a greater number of solutions around the problem.

Standing desks, for example, are a great way to combat the problem of sitting disease, because they allow you to get your work done while standing, and you can also adjust the height whenever you like so you can sit if you get too tired - though of course, you shouldn't sit too much!

Comhar

An example of a good standing desk that can help avoid the issue of sitting disease is the FlexiSpot Comhar.

The desk's main feature is the height adjustment, which allows you to move it up or down to different heights depending on what you want to work with. This is an excellent feature, because now you won't just be able to stand when you work, you can also get rid of the ergonomic problems that come with sitting in the wrong position, or the cramps in your legs when the desk is too high or too low.

The desk comes with customizable height presets as well, which you can program so you don't have to keep adjusting to specific heights. It also has an anti-collision feature which makes the desk stop moving if it detects any objects in the way. This can allow you to adjust height without worrying about damaging any of your belongings.

This is particularly useful for office workers who simply do not have time to worry about whether the height is correct or not. When you work a nine to five, you just want to get it over with as soon as possible so you can get home instead of fussing over the right height.

This desk comes with a tempered glass desktop that has rounded edges for maximum safety and comfort. There is also a safe lock button on the control panel that keeps pets or kids from making any unwanted changes. There are also embedded USB charging ports in the control panel so you can charge your devices without needing to go through all the jumble of cables. An embedded drawer lets you keep your belongings in, so they don't make the desk look cluttered when you're not using it.

Preventing sitting disease is important, but it's not impossible! By making sure you spend enough time standing, you don't have to worry about the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.