Health Risks of Prolonged Sitting at a Desk and How to Avoid Them

26 November, 2021

Sitting at a desk all day, or sitting disease, as some of you may know it, is a modern-day ailment affecting people of all ages today. From sitting at the breakfast table to the driver's seat and your work desk is how we spend most of our days.

But the staggering amount of time we spend sitting can lead to several health risks. After all, the human body is designed to stand upright. Your bones, joints, muscles, bowels, and cardiovascular system work more effectively that way. So it's only natural to have an increased risk of several illnesses and health risks when you spend most of your time sitting at a desk.

According to research, sitting at a desk all day or spending too much time slumped on your couch can be linked to several life-threatening conditions, including blood clots, fatty liver, heart diseases, obesity, osteoporosis, muscular spasm and weakness, diabetes, anxiety, and depression and even cancer. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid all these health risks, including increasing your mobility, taking care of your posture, and using adequate products, such as standing desks that allow you to be productive without increasing your health risks.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the health risks of sitting at a desk all day and what you can do to avoid these risks.

Health Risks of Sitting at a Desk All Day

Obesity

Obesity

One of the most obvious health risks of sitting at a desk all day is obesity. When you are not moving and spend most of your time sitting at a desk, your body doesn't use the sugar and fats you consume. As a result, it gets stored in your body as fat and increases your risk of obesity and other health concerns associated with obesity.

Moreover, even when you exercise but spend most of your time sitting at a desk, your risk of developing metabolic syndrome is much higher, significantly increasing your risk of developing a serious cardiovascular illness.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Sitting at a desk all day can also be linked to an increased health risk for heart diseases. According to studies, inactive individuals who sit for prolonged periods have around a 150% higher risk of a heart attack and resulting death.

Blood Clots

When your body stays inactive for a long period, it can drastically increase your risk of developing blood clots in your deep veins, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis. DVT is a serious problem that leads to the formation of a blood clot in your leg veins, which break-offs and travels to other parts of your body. In case it travels to your lungs, it's a medical emergency that can lead to death.

Type II Diabetes

Sitting at a desk all day affects how your body digests sugar. When you are not moving, your body doesn't digest the sugar effectively, increasing insulin resistance in your body. As a result, your body cannot absorb the glucose from the blood, leading to elevated blood glucose levels.

An inactive lifestyle is one of the primary causes of insulin resistance; hence, sitting at a desk all day is one of the factors that can significantly increase your risk of type II diabetes.

Musculoskeletal Problems

Musculoskeletal Problems

Sitting at a desk all day can weaken your muscles, especially the large leg and glute muscles, which play an integral role in stabilizing you while you stand or walk. Prolonged sitting can weaken these muscles and significantly increase your risk of falling or injury while walking or working out.

Besides your legs and glutes, prolonged sitting can also affect your hip and back muscles and joints. While sitting, your hip flexor muscles are shortened, and when your muscles stay in the same position for a longer time, it can lead to problems with your hip joints.

Furthermore, sitting at a desk all day also weakens your core muscles. While standing, your core and back muscles are activated as they have to keep your body upright. But when sitting, your core and back muscles aren't working, and hence they weaken over time. Weaker core and back muscles and poor posture while sitting are among the most common causes of spinal problems, including disc compression and premature degeneration of the spine.

Lastly, it is common for individuals who spend most of their time sitting at a desk to experience pain and stiffness in their neck and shoulder muscles. Again it is due to muscular inactivity, and the condition worsens due to poor posture while sitting at a desk.

Anxiety and Depression

It may seem that sitting at a desk all day is not connected to your mental health, but that's not true. There are links between prolonged sitting and mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Individuals who spend time sitting at a desk all day have a much higher risk of developing anxiety and depression than those who are physically active and are on the move all day.

Cancer

An increasing number of studies suggest the increased risk of cancer associated with sitting at a desk all day.

How to Avoid Health Risks Associated with Sitting at a Desk All Day?

The health risks associated with sitting at a desk all day are terrifying. Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid some of these health risks.

Let’s look at how you can avoid health risks associated with sitting at a desk all day.

Keep Moving

#1. Keep Moving

Perhaps the best way to reduce your risk of health concerns associated with prolonged sitting is to keep moving. If your job requires you to stay at your desk most of the time, make sure you get up and take a short walk once every 60 minutes. A brief walk will activate your muscles, improve your productivity and reduce the risk of several other health concerns mentioned above.

Moreover, try and stay as active as possible when you are not at work. You can take a walk to your office instead of using your transport for commute, or you can resort to cycling, which is also one of the healthier ways to get to work. Avoid elevators and take the stairs instead. Instead of sending messages to work colleagues, walk up to them to communicate with them.

And most importantly, take out at least 30 minutes on most days of your week for moderate physical activity, which can include:

Basic stretching, Walking, Jogging, Yoga, Swimming, and Riding a bicycle.

Maintain Good Posture

#2. Maintain Good Posture

When sitting is inevitable, you must maintain a good sitting posture. Instead of slouching on the couch, make sure your hips and knees make an angle of 90 degrees to support your feet on the ground. Moreover, when working on a computer, make sure that the top of your screen is in line with your forehead, so your neck and shoulder muscles are at ease. Maintain an erect and upright spinal posture and avoid leaning forward towards your screen.

Adjustable Standing Desk Pro Series

#3. Use a Standing Desk

A standing desk, also known as a stand-up desk, is one of the best solutions for individuals who must sit at a desk all day. Basically, it is a desk that allows you to stand comfortably while you work. The use of a standing desk can significantly reduce your risk of health concerns, including cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, obesity, and musculoskeletal problems. Moreover, when you use a standing desk for working, it enhances your mood, boosts your productivity, and may also help you live longer and healthier.

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