We have probably all heard that sitting is bad for you, but do you know why that is? One thing is for certain, we are sitting more than ever. The average commute in the GTA is now 47 minutes. Add this to an eight hour desk job and watching your favourite Netflix shows in the evening and you are easily totalling about ten hours of sitting a day. But why is sitting so bad for your health? Here are the top five reasons why reducing the amount you sit can help improve your health in 2016:
- Heart Damage: Sitting too long can cause heart damage. When sitting, there is a decrease in an enzyme called Lipoprotein Lipase in our muscles. The role of this enzyme is to help bring fat from the blood into the muscles where it is used as energy. A decrease in this enzyme means there is more fat left in the blood and less used as energy. This can increase the chance of heart disease and other heart related conditions. In a recent study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, more than four hours of screen time a day can double the rate of heart related health problems compared with people who watched less than two hours of screen time a day.
- Diabetes Type 2: Sitting causes our body to become less responsive to insulin. Insulin helps the body use sugar from the foods we eat for energy. Because of our decreased response to insulin, the body tries to correct this by producing even more insulin. This causes the pancreas to work even harder and spikes the level of insulin within the body. When this occurs our body can become resistant to high insulin levels which can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Muscle Wasting: Long periods of sitting can cause our muscles to lose their strength and waste away. This can cause general weakness in the body and a higher chance of developing back pain. Not only do the muscles weaken, but the lack of activity causes muscles to tighten and be less flexible. If muscles are less flexible a person is at a higher risk of pulling a back muscle when reaching or bending. This is the time having our number handy can be a back-saver!
- Brain Fog: Couldn’t get that paper or project completed on time? You can now blame it on brain fog. The brain is a very busy place and needs to keep its house in order. Nutrients need to be delivered and waste products need to be taken away by the blood. Too much sitting can cause less fresh blood from being delivered upstairs which can slow down brain function.
- Leg Cramping and Swelling: Have you looked at your legs lately? Are they swollen? Do you get leg cramps? This can all be due to excessive sitting. When moving, the muscles act like a pump to bring the blood back to the heart. Sitting for long periods of time can cause the blood to pool in the legs. If left unchecked for a long period of time, this blood can clot causing severe leg pain. This condition is referred to as DVT (deep vein thrombosis). People with chronic leg cramping and swelling may benefit from compression socks.