There are times when we are so hooked to working on our laptops in our den or watching TV that we don’t realize how much time we have spent sitting on a chair or a couch. Soon, we start showing signs that we’ve been spending more time on our chair than needed. We not only end up gaining weight, but also face serious health problems if you choose to be sitting too long.
For a healthy lifestyle, we must make a conscious effort to avoid a sedentary schedule. Be it physical or mental health experts, everyone recommends a minimum 30 minutes of exercise apart from other movements during a day to stay fit.
Fitness influencer Manjula Narayanan, who promotes holistic lifestyle changes via Instagram, touched upon long sitting hours, in a latest post.
She shared some physical symptoms of sitting too long, and how to avoid them.
Signs of sitting too long in one position:
1. Swelling in feet and legs:
Swollen feet and legs are easy to spot. They look bigger in size than usual. According to a study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, fluid accumulation in the legs due to sitting too long can lead leg edema and risk of blood clots in extreme cases. Sometimes, fluid accumulating in the legs is accompanied by fluid shift into the upper body, which may lead to increase in blood pressure, respiratory and sleep issues.
2. Sore hips and back:
When you sit for too long, don’t you feel your hips and back hurting? That’s because you tend to rest on your ischial tuberosities, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Also called ‘sit bones’, these are the bony parts at the bottom of one’s pelvic region. Also when we sit for a prolonged time, it places a pressure on your lower back, nerves, muscles, tendons, and even ischial bursae. These are fluid-filled sacs near the ischial bones.
3. Weight gain:
If you have a weighing machine, you’ll be able to tell how much you have gained. If not, then you can simply feel the extra fat and your clothes getting tighter. Inactivity is one of the major causes of obesity, and regular exercise and healthy eating are the only ways to combat it.
4. Fatigue and excess tiredness:
Fatigue is more than just feeling sleepy or being tired. This feeling of exhaustion can interrupt daily life. Lack of sleep, too much physical activity or an unhealthy diet can lead to fatigue apart from sitting too long.
5. Posture-related stress
Poor posture can lead to tension in your neck, upper back and shoulders, leading to a headache, so avoid sitting in one position for long, suggested the National Health Service, UK. You should also avoid a bad posture while working.
6. Lack of focus
You may feel a lack of focus due to body aches, apart from strained eyes and a wandering mind. It may become difficult for you to focus on your work or anything when your mind is distracted or your eyes are strained or your body is hurting.
7. Increased risk of ailments
Your susceptibility to ailments such as diabetes, cancer and heart issues can increase. According to American Diabetes Association, sitting for long ups your risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and even early death.
How to avoid side effects of sitting too long?
Follow these simple steps to improve circulation and ease the effects of sitting too long –
1. Walk more
If you can, stand and move or just go for a walk every hour. It doesn’t have to be for long. This will break up the day and help to maintain focus. This will also allow the muscles to move from their position. When you beat your sedentary lifestyle, you will feel the pain less.
2. Stretch a little
You can also do stretching while you are standing as this will relax tension from muscles and allow your body to reset before you sit back down. If you can’t stand and go for a short walk for any reason, do some stretches while you are seated.
3. Twist and turn
Turn your body at the waist as far as you can to each side then do a side stretch. Stretch both arms and legs as straight as they can go. Then raise hands over your head and stretch them forward. This will help to release tension in the neck, shoulders and back.
4. Take frequent breaks
To ease headaches, take breaks frequently. Also, allow your eyes to rest a few times a day. To reduce eye strain, look at something else or move away from the screen.
Since there’s a direct relationship between time spent sitting and health problems, it’s best to get up and start moving instead of sitting too long.