Sedentary Lifestyle: Risks, Effects, and Solutions
A sedentary lifestyle negatively affects our health, which has been proven and described in reliable sources, for example, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the myths surrounding a sedentary lifestyle and its effects on health, as well as some relevant information on the topic.
Sedentary Lifestyle and Lower Back Pain
For a long time, it was believed that due to long sitting in a chair or in an armchair, lower back pain appears. But it is now known that this opinion is a myth.
Sitting for long periods of time can be unhealthy, but back pain plagues both those who are sedentary and those who are more active. This was established in 2000 when Hartvigsen and colleagues reviewed thirty-five studies that involved workers who spent most of their time sitting.
Thirty-four studies failed to find a positive association between sedentary work and lower back pain.
Seven years later, Lis and other scientists reviewed fifteen qualitative studies on the subject. A link has been found between lower back pain and an uncomfortable sitting position or vibration in the seat: for example, helicopter pilots often experience back pain.
But all the studies came down to the conclusion that a sedentary lifestyle is not associated with lower back pain.
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Sedentary Lifestyle Risks
Our ancestors were engaged in physical labor many times more than we do. Agriculture now employs less than a third in terms of the number of workers in the United States than 50 years ago, not to mention the number of 100 years ago.
Previously, the simplest – by our standards – tasks required more physical effort. The information age has made our life easier, and now more and more intelligence is required in work, not physical strength.
But then the employees return home, having worked 8 hours, and sit down again, at the screens of computers, tablets, and laptops. Americans sit in front of a screen about an hour more in 2018 than in 2008.
The human body is a very complex system in which nothing works without stimuli. So, human tissue can literally “die” without stimulation. For example, people who, for some reason, cannot move are familiar with pressure sores – tissue necrosis due to decreased blood circulation.
Chair workers mostly suffer from “bedsores,” in which the muscles begin to ache as if for physical stimulation, for example, to get a person to stand up, stretch.
Of course, necrosis is unlikely to occur, but tissues and muscles will be negatively affected by a sedentary lifestyle. The muscles of the shoulders and back are especially affected, which in general are not very mobile, even when we are in an upright position.
Sedentary Lifestyle Effects
Studies have shown that chronic physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle impair fitness scores. Studies of this problem began a long time ago, and most of them noted the connection of lack of sufficient physical activity with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. The reality is that you will feel less tired by exercising regularly.
There is a widespread belief that sitting for a long time causes muscle tissue to shrink and contract. In fact, this is not entirely true (it will take a very long time to sit).
The length of the muscle tissue is more likely to decrease with constant exertion. For example, in 2012, a qualitative study was conducted, which showed that the constant wearing of high heels reduced the length of the calf muscles by 13%.
Do I need a special office chair?
In short, no.
The medical value of ergonomic chairs has been greatly exaggerated. The ideal chair simply does not exist, and the question is not in the chair, but in the constant position in which the body is located: if it is uncomfortable, then no chair will help.
You can choose 2 or 3 chairs for yourself, which will periodically change if one of them is uncomfortable to sit on.
Should I stand at the table?
A balance is needed on this issue. Standing instead of seated work is gaining popularity.
Is it difficult to work while standing? Yes.
In the first month, or even two, it is difficult to get used to this. Some workers report that they are feeling healthier, have lost several pounds due to the activity resulting from standing upright, and are more productive.
But there are also significant disadvantages.
Constant standing can be exhausting, increases the risk of carotid atherosclerosis by nine times due to the additional stress on the circulatory system, and also increases the risk of developing varicose veins. That is, standing all day may not be very good for your health.
How to find a way out of the situation?
Work while sitting, but take mini breaks every 30-60 minutes. Just get up and move.
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