The danger of sitting too much and too long
“Take a seat” - in everyday life a well-meant phrase, but you are not doing your body a big favour. We sit too much. And this is contrary to our nature, because man is not made to spend long periods in a seated position.
Do you ever wonder how much time you spend sitting every day? Do you mainly work in the office? Do you spend your lunch break in a restaurant or the evening on the sofa? If so, then it can easily add up to 11/12 hours. In Germany, around 85% of working time is spent sitting, and this excludes the time they spent sitting in one’s spare time.
It is alarming that, according to a study, 6 hours of sitting per day is enough to significantly reduce life expectancy. Scientists and physicians agree that excessive sitting is a lethal activity.
But let us start with the supposedly less dramatic, but not less painful effects of permanent sitting. Above all, the entire musculoskeletal system suffers and degenerates as a result of lack of exercise:
Office workers are familiar with this sight: A sea of heads tilted forward and hunched backs at the desks around you. This unattractive posture and strain is balanced out by the neck and upper back, often resulting in stiffening and pain. The abdominal muscles also relax in a supposedly comfortable sitting posture, which promotes the deformation of the abdominal muscles to form a rounded back. The intervertebral discs are poorly supplied with blood and nutrients due to the uneven load and they lose their elasticity. The result: the risk of a slipped disc.
In addition, a lack of blood circulation restricts the distribution of nutrients and can lead to muscle hardening and muscle tension, a lack of exercise in the long run to curvature of the muscles.
As if this is not bad enough, the long-term consequences of sitting in a permanent posture are far more dramatic.
Among other things, the reduced blood circulation can lead to heart diseases because the cholesterol accumulates in the heart vessels and blocks important arteries. In the worst case, this can trigger a heart attack. Sitting continuously also affects the pancreas, as it influences the reaction of the organism to the insulin it produces. Muscles that are not moved, however, have a decreased reaction to insulin. This effect can be detected after just one day of sitting. The pancreas then produces more and more insulin. According to Canadian researchers, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increasing by a frightening 91 percent. According to a study, a lack of exercise, such as that caused by too much sitting, is the cause of ten percent of colon cancer cases, with breast cancer also accounting for ten percent. Researchers believe that regular exercise stimulates natural antioxidants and kills cell-damaging free radicals. A lack of exercise leads to a lack of this effect.
Getting up more often
And now what? What to do? As a rule of thumb, sit for a maximum of one hour at a time without moving and standing up in between! It's the small changes that have a significantly positive effect. For example, if you get up while you're talking on the phone in the office, take a walk during your lunch break, or follow the new trend of having meetings and brainstorming while. Exercises such as stretching the back and chest area can be wonderfully supplemented and are also advisable at regular intervals.
Small changes to the workplace are already helpful for a better sitting posture. Be careful not to set the desk too high, elbows should be at a 90-degree angle when the arms are relaxed on the work surface. This prevents shoulders and neck tension. At best, you have an office chair with a flexible backrest. Upper and lower legs should at a right angle so that the entire surface of the feet can rest on the floor. The backrest of the chair should provide good support for the lower back area and be adjustable. Sit on the front part of the chair, with the pelvis slightly tilted forward. The spine is thus raised and the blood in the legs can circulate better. The screen should also be properly adjusted and at least half a metre from the eyes. Make sure that the monitor is at eye level (if you have to raise your head to read the first line, the screen is set too high).
And most importantly, find a balance by doing enough exercise in your spare time. Properly dosed weight training strengthens the muscles and protects against bad posture.