Home OPINIONS Don’t just sit, it is bad for you!

Don’t just sit, it is bad for you!

Did you know that the human body was designed exclusively to move, not to sit? This is evident in the special structure that allow us to stand upright despite the force of gravity and so is the blood circulation that depends on us moving around. Every portion of your body is itching for you to move andyour nerves profit from the action just as much as the elastic skin. However, given that we spend the majority of our time sitting, what proportion of population worldwide is aware of the risk? Even now you must be sitting reading this, right? Why? Isn’t sitting so much comfortable?

A recent study by Thrive My Way research on sedentary lifestyle in 2024 revealed a significant finding that there has been an 83% increase in sedentary lifestyle jobs, indicating a decline in physically active jobs by 50%. This means that immobility while working has increased and several studies show that an immobile person has 147% increased chances of contracting heart diseases and 100% risk of contracting type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, kidney and liver problems.

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Consequently, 3.2 million lives are lost to physical inactivity annually. This widespread adoption of remote working as the new norm following the COVID-19 lockdown contributed to the widespread sitting with the average person sitting close to 12 hours per day. Compared to infected individuals who were more physically active, those who contracted COVID-19 were 20% more likely to be hospitalized, 10% more likely to require intensive care and 32% more likely to die. This ought to be a wakeup call because recent statistics show that sedentary lifestyle is currently the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.

Wear and tear of spinal discs

Have you ever sat and felt a numbness or swelling in your limbs? The compression of your veins, arteries, and nerves which can become clogged and restrict nerve communication, resulting in numbness and decreased blood flow is the cause of this swelling. This typically results from sitting. Sitting places uneven pressure on your spine due to the slouched shoulders and curved back. Therefore, over time, it causes wear and tear, inflammation on your spinal discs, overtaxing your cervical ligament and joints and placing stress on your muscles to adjust to the hunched back position.

Musculoskeletal imbalances

The main causes of back pain, particularly in those who work in computer-related occupations, are these imbalances, wear and tear on the spinal discs and pressure from the stiffness in chronically short muscles like the inner hip, hamstring and calve. This overloads the ligaments and joints hence becoming the number one causes of back pain.

Reduced lungs inefficiency

As you sit, the respiratory system is affected too. The chest cavity gets even smaller, giving your lungs less room to expand as much during respiration. This could also occur when one is seated, as the back rounds forward since the spine experiences thoracic kyphosis. This restricts the lungs effectiveness when inhaling and exhaling. Thisresults in the reduction in the quantity of oxygen that enters your lungs and percolates into the blood. This therefore causes abdominal pressure that makes the diaphragm to contract hence incomplete excursion hence less air is inhaled.

Slower metabolism rate

A few hours spent sitting still causes the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which specifically breaks down fats in the blood, to temporally deactivate, thus causing a 20% reduction in good cholesterol., The lipoprotein enzyme is responsible for breaking down fats in the blood. Therefore, when one sits, it slows down the combustion of fats by the body, unlike when you’re moving around.

Brain inactivity

When sitting head tend to tilt forward due to the tightness and lumbar kyphosis making the vertebralarteries compressed. This leads to low levels of oxygen in the brain therefore affecting your concentration and brain activity. Hence the resultant effect leads to brain fog as a result of decreased blood circulation in the brain.
However, all these can be mitigated, but how?

If you must sit, adopt the proper sitting position. Equilibrium weight distribution on both the left and right sides characterize correct posture. Inregards to distribution, the weight needs to be distributed uniformly through the foot soles and extra distribution points. You should evenly distribute them on the arm and back rests, especially when seated.

It is also necessary to consider the spine’s natural curvature. When seated, the lumbar ludodis, cervical ludodis, and thoracic kyphosis should all exhibit their typical curvatures. Tend to focus on having a straighter spine than a slouch.

When sitting, the hips should also be at a 90-degree position with respect to the rest of the body. When using a screen or piece of paper, one should maintain an arm’s length with the viewing angle at or slightly below eye level.

Purchasing a standing desk can also be an option. One will be forced to work in an upright position as a result. This will improve circulation and blood flow to every area of your body.

Remembering how important it is to take breaks. Ideally moving around and taking pauses every 30 to 45 minutes. With today’s technologies, which allow you to set reminders on your watches, phones, this can be easily accomplished. One becomes more active and beneficial to the body during these breaks.

Sadly, it is impossible to exclude the cliched “exercise word”. This ought to be included in regular lifestyles especially in the morning
The truth is that sitting has become a prominent part of our lives.

However, if prolonged or overdone, it is harmful and potentially detrimental to our health and wellbeing. With most jobs operating with the sitting culture, only you and I have the power to control it. Some writers have even asked if it is the new smoking. Could it be the one?

Dr Wasena Angira is an orthopedic surgeon and pain specialist.

DISCLAIMER! Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Corporation.

Wasena Angira
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