You’ve probably heard about how harmful a sedentary lifestyle is: we spend forty or more hours a week at the computer, move by car or public transport and sit more and more time.

Health experts have even coined the term “sedentary illness,” arguing that diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal diseases, and even depression can be the consequences of sedentary work.

Here many will argue: “But wait, I’m a runner! I hardly need to worry about the consequences of sedentary work because I am active. ” But alas, a growing body of research shows that people who spend many hours a day sitting can still harm their health, even if they exercise regularly.

On GIFs, we show simple exercises that can be performed right in the workplace.

What the research says

Until recently, it was believed that exercising for 60 minutes or more a day, you are physically active, and the case is closed.

Unfortunately, in addition to regular exercise, active people often sit just as much as lovers of the “couch” lifestyle.

According to newer research, short physical activities (like an hour’s jogging or working out in the gym) do not compensate for long hours of sitting during the day.
Why sedentary work is harmful (even if you are physically active) and what to do about it

Why a sedentary lifestyle is harmful

Slow down metabolism. Prolonged sitting slows down your metabolism, which affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and break down body fat.

Muscle tissue contains the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which directly correlates with physical activity: thanks to the activity of this enzyme, fats are burned and give the body energy. That is, they are not stored in the form of deposits. If you sit for 5–6 or more hours a day, LPL activity is significantly reduced.

Why sedentary work is harmful (even if you are physically active) and what to do about it

Despondency and depression. The links between sitting and mental health are not yet fully understood, but a survey of 30,000 women found that those who sit for nine or more hours a day are more likely to become depressed than those who sit for less than six hours in a day.

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One of the versions – Prolonged sitting reduces blood circulation, resulting from which fewer neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of happiness, such as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, enter the brain.

Numb legs. When you sit in a chair, your body is usually bent at a 90-degree angle at your hips and knees. This position shortens the hip flexors and hamstrings, which can lead to future hip problems. The same is true for the calf muscles: when you sit, they can become less flexible due to the ankle’s lack of movement, which increases the likelihood of injury to the Achilles tendon.

Why sedentary work is harmful (even if you are physically active) and what to do about it

Back pain and poor posture. Sitting for long periods of time can cause back problems. Observe how often you slouch or sit in a position called “Techno-neck” – when the shoulders are rounded, the head is lowered while looking at the smartphone screen or the keyboard. This head position causes weakness and tension in the cervical spine (neck), scapula (shoulders), and thoracic spine (in the middle and lower back).

Poor posture can also cause poor spinal health, such as compression of discs.

Why sedentary work is harmful (even if you are physically active) and what to do about it

The risk of premature death. In the 21st century, the concept of Sedentary Death Syndrome (SeDS early sedentary death syndrome) is not a separate specific disease, but several risk factors that lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases, muscle degradation, physical inactivity, and the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Study A 2010 study of over 180,000 participants showed that people who spend more than 6 hours a day sitting with low levels of physical activity had a 71% increase in their risk of premature death.

The risk of cardiovascular disease. One of the conditions most commonly associated with insufficient physical activity is heart disease. Studies have shown that a lack of activity during the day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 147%.

Study “Sedentary lifestyle and subclinical heart injury” showed that sitting all day can cause troponin build-up. It is a protein that the cells of the heart muscle secrete when damaged. People who sit for more than 10 hours a day have higher troponin levels. That’s not enough to cause a heart attack but still high enough for researchers to call it “subclinical heart damage.”

Why sedentary work is harmful (even if you are physically active) and what to do about it

The research data is impressive and frightening at the same time. But the solution to the problem is quite simple: it only takes a little discipline to create new good habits.

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To compensate for the negative effects of prolonged sitting, you only need two minutes of activity every hour – just for this conclusion came researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine.

You can spend this time stretching, walking, or doing a little warm-up. To make it easier for you to remember the much-needed two-minute break, set a reminder on your smartphone until the habit develops on its own.

The biomechanist Katie Bowman, author of the book “Move Your DNA,” agrees with them:
“By adding more movement during your free time, you engage inert muscles and compensate for the effect of sitting.”

Why sedentary work is harmful (even if you are physically active) and what to do about it

How to minimize harm from sedentary work

Spend time in a natural sitting position. It’s about the squat position. Research has shown that in societies where people eat, work and socialize while squatting, they are less likely to experience many health problems associated with inaction.

At first, try to spend five minutes a day (broken down into smaller intervals) in a natural sitting position.

It may sound silly, but it will go a long way in opening your hips, increasing the range of motion in your ankles, and stretching those muscle fibers that are not involved in sitting in a chair. If you can do more than five minutes, go for it! The more time you squat comfortably, the better in the long run.

Keep your office active. If sitting for a long time while working is unavoidable, take your body (and mind) to take periodic breaks. Every 30-40 minutes, get up for a couple of minutes and walk around the room or hallway. If you can squat and then hang on the bar for a minute (some offices have horizontal bars and other sports equipment), do it at least several times a day.

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Use the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk at lunchtime and enjoy outdoor coffee breaks.

By the way, according to research from Harvard Business, being physically active during the day has a positive effect on productivity, improves focus, and helps reduce stress.

Why sedentary work is harmful (even if you are physically active) and what to do about it

Upgrade your workplace. If you work at home with a laptop, try alternating between sitting at a desk and sitting on the floor. For example, cross-legged or kneeling at a low table. You can try the half lotus pose if you have enough flexibility. This may seem more uncomfortable at first than sitting in a familiar position, but these positions are much more beneficial for the hips, knees, and back.

Nowadays “standing tables” are popular, but with them, everything is not so simple. The study has shown that working while standing for only a few hours a day leads to swelling in the legs and can cause varicose veins, cognitive decline, and general bodily discomfort.

Ergonomic chairs are not a panacea either. Of course, they can reduce pain in the back or neck, but a comfortable chair does not motivate you to move more.

Stay active throughout the day. Simple little things – for example, walking several stops, a half-hour walk instead of watching your favorite TV show, refusing to eat at your desk, simple stretching exercises that can be done even while sitting in an office chair – all this is quite effective in combating physical inactivity. The main thing is not to forget and do this comprehensively and regularly in combination with running training.

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