The Effects of Sitting Too Long on Your Health and How to Combat It

Prolonged sitting is a major health risk and may contribute to numerous chronic health issues.

Sitting for extended periods of time can increase your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It may also have detrimental effects on bones and nerves.

1. Increased Risk of Cancer

Sedentary behavior, whether it’s spending too much time at your desk or watching TV, has been linked to an increased risk of colon, endometrial and lung cancers. According to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, every two hours spent sitting increases your likelihood for developing these cancers.

Researchers examined data from 43 previous observational studies, which included 4 million people and nearly 70,000 cancer cases. They discovered that sitting for extended periods of time increased your likelihood of getting these cancers regardless of whether you exercised or not.

2. Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Sitting too much can clog your blood vessels with plaque, blocking the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. This is a serious health issue that could result in a heart attack or stroke.

If you’re concerned about the negative consequences of sitting too much, it’s essential to discuss it with your doctor. They can suggest ways to combat it.

One of the most widespread recommendations for a healthy lifestyle is to sit less and move more. However, how much actual movement each individual requires may differ.

3. Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Sitting for an extended period of time can erode your body’s capacity to regulate blood sugar, leading to what is known as insulin resistance.

Sitting can also lead to weight gain. Our bodies burn fewer calories when we sit than when standing or moving, so the extra fat we consume during the day tends to get stored by our bodies.

Exercise regularly and break up sedentary habits to combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting. Examples of exercises include brisk walking, gardening, dancing, and pushing a lawnmower.

4. Increased Risk of Osteoporosis

Sitting too much has numerous detrimental effects on your health, but one of the most significant is an increased risk for osteoporosis. This condition thinning and weakens bones to the point that they become vulnerable to breaking.

Women tend to develop this condition after menopause, though it can affect males as well. It could be caused by various factors such as older age, hormonal changes, taking certain medicines and not eating enough foods that contain calcium or vitamin D.

Osteoporosis can be treated with bone supplements, diet, and exercise. A DEXA scan, a special bone density test, can measure your mineral density and help determine if you’re at risk for osteoporosis.

5. Increased Risk of Varicose Veins

Nurses, doctors and desk workers who spend a lot of time sitting may be at greater risk for developing varicose veins. Not only are these unsightly veins painful to look at but can cause discomfort as well.

Varicose veins can be reduced by avoiding prolonged standing and sitting, exercising regularly, wearing compression stockings, and elevating your legs when resting or sleeping. All of these measures may help protect you against this condition.

Varicose veins are caused when the valves in your veins weaken over time due to age, obesity, pregnancy and lack of exercise. They can also develop as a result of trauma or surgery to the leg.

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