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What Is Sitting Disease?

Issac Newton’s First Law of Motion states that “A body in motion stays in motion; a body at rest stays at rest” when he began to write the Laws of Motion, and you may relate.

Like most Americans, you work from home, sit at a desk only to stretch, and take a walk for a coffee or meal each day.

Once the workday is done, you might enjoy a few hours of television or drive around to run a few errands. But if you stood for less than 3 hours each day, you may start to experience ‘sitting disease’.

What Is Sitting Disease?

Sitting disease is not a real medical diagnosis, but it is a term used by the medical community for a lifestyle that is associated with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that lead to a shortened lifespan and chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

Sitting Is The New Smoking

You may not realize how much sitting you do on any given day because you are busy and mentally active, but inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle lead to ‘sitting disease’. Sitting for long periods of time slows down more than your metabolism. It launches a catalytic chain of events that can lead to harmful health outcomes.

In fact, a 2011 study “Sitting Is The New Smoking” by the Heart Foundation concluded after surveying 800,000 people that the risk of diabetes increases by 112%, and 147% for heart attack and stroke.

Sitting Disease Facts

Sitting disease is not an actual medical diagnosis, but it is a common term used to describe what happens when a person stays at their desk without standing for prolonged periods of time.

Sitting is ingrained into our everyday life. A Science Advisory report published in 2016 by the American Heart Association raised awareness that sitting in one place and a sedentary lifestyle were two separate issues.

Average Time Spent Sitting In A Day

The impact of sitting starts right away. Sitting affects a majority of workers in jobs that require long hours in front of a computer.

Adults in the United States spend on average 6-8 hours a day in a chair, and some workers may sit for 12 hours or more with few breaks. While it’s OK to sit for 50 minutes at a time, getting up and moving around after 30 minutes is best.

Effects Of Prolonged Sitting

Sitting disease can lead to early death. Sitting while working, watching television or commuting contributes to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome may lead to weight gain, which contributes to chronic diseases and illnesses including heart problems, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and poor health.

Sedentary Work And Health

Sitting in front of the television can also be an indicator of poor health. In one study, men who sat and watched television for more than 23 hours a week were at a greater risk of early death. 23 hours sounds like a long time, but averaged out that is a little under 3 hours an evening – the average watch time for a movie or streaming a few shows.

Symptoms Of Sitting Disease

Sitting too long may feel fine at first, but there are certain symptoms that suggest that your body may be feeling the impact of being in a chair. Some symptoms may include: feeling tired, even after having a restful sleep, leg numbness, and body fatigue, or an inability to concentrate for long periods of time.

How To Reverse The Effects Of Sitting Disease

There is mixed information when it comes to reversing the effects of prolonged sitting. However, the science is promising. A 2016 study by Lancet, an independent medical journal, gathered data from one million participants. The study reviewed the effects of physical activity on morbidity and sitting for prolonged periods of time. Researchers concluded that one hour of moderate exercise a day may have a positive effect on people who sat for eight hours a day.

Overall, it appears with sitting, as with all things, moderation is key.

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