The Impact of Sitting on Breathing

23 Dec, 2023 | Dr. Malik | No Comments

The Impact of Sitting on Breathing

The modern sedentary lifestyle, characterized by prolonged periods of sitting, has been a topic of growing concern in health discussions. Not only does this lifestyle contribute to various physical ailments, but it also significantly impacts one of our most fundamental life processes: breathing. This article delves into the science behind how sitting affects our respiratory system, drawing from various studies and research findings

Understanding the Mechanics of Breathing

Breathing, a process we often take for granted, is a complex interaction of muscles and organs. It primarily involves the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, which work in tandem to expand and contract the lungs, facilitating the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The efficiency of this system is, surprisingly, closely linked to our posture.

The Consequence of Sedentary Posture on Breathing


Sitting, especially in a poor posture, can hinder the respiratory process in multiple ways:

  • – Restricted Diaphragm Movement: In a slouched position, the movement of the diaphragm is limited, reducing the lung’s capacity to expand fully. This reduced movement impedes deep breathing, leading to a decrease in oxygen intake.
  • – Altered Muscle Function: When sitting, particularly while using devices like smartphones, the body tends to adopt a posture that can alter muscle function. Research by Kyung Woo Kang et al. (2016) highlighted that using a smartphone in a sitting position led to a decrease in Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) and Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1), indicating impaired respiratory function.
  • – Impact of Extreme Postures on Vital Capacity: A study by M. Appel et al. (1986) explored how extreme body postures impact vital capacity. The findings revealed that certain postures, like the partial sit-up position, could reduce vital capacity by up to 8%.
The Ripple Effect of Impaired Breathing


The implications of reduced breathing efficiency extend beyond just the respiratory system. It can lead to:

  • – Increased stress on the heart and lungs.
  • – Elevated cortisol levels, contributing to various health issues such as anxiety, weight gain, and high blood pressure.
  • – Reduced physical and cognitive performance due to decreased oxygen supply to the body and brain.
Counteracting the Effects


To mitigate these effects, one can:

  • – Maintain Good Posture: Adopting an ergonomically sound sitting position helps in maintaining optimal lung capacity.
  • – Regular Movement: Integrating regular movement and stretches into one’s routine can help alleviate the adverse effects of prolonged sitting.
  • – Breathing Exercises: Practices like diaphragmatic breathing can enhance lung function and counteract the negative impacts of sitting.
  • – Mindful Technology Use: Being conscious of posture while using devices like smartphones can prevent the decline in respiratory function.


The sedentary lifestyle’s impact on breathing is a testament to how interconnected our body’s systems are and how our daily habits can significantly influence our health. By understanding the effects of sitting on respiratory function and adopting healthier habits, we can improve not just our breathing, but our overall well-being.

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