Today’s lifestyles are much different than those of people who lived one hundred years or even fifty years ago. Computers and electronics of all kinds have brought work and entertainment directly to our desks, kitchen tables and sofas.
However, this convenience has created a different problem, one that affects people of all ages. Sitting disease is thought to be a potential cause a number of health issues, some of which can ultimately lead to an early death.
What Is Sitting Disease?
Sitting disease is a catchy name given to the common problem of living a sedentary lifestyle over a long period of time.
Many people may not realize the number of hours they spend simply sitting in front of computers and TV. Once they give attention to this lifestyle habit, they begin to understand the kind of damage they may be doing to their health. Problems can include back pain, joint stiffness, poor posture, digestive problems and may even include a number of more serious conditions.
Why Is Sitting A Problem?
Sitting is a natural part of human activity. People sit to do a number of tasks that require close attention or fine motor skills. However, in modern times, the amount of time people spend sitting and doing various tasks has increased exponentially.
Particularly in Western, industrialized countries, more people use TV, videos and computers for their entertainment. Many workers spend eight or more hours each day sitting in front of computer monitors to do their work tasks. The opportunities for moving around during the workday are few, and are only broken up by short breaks or lunch periods. This lack of activity can lead to a number of physical problems that physicians are now recognizing may be an effect of this sedentary lifestyle.
Health Problems Associated With Sitting Disease
The fundamental problem with long periods of sitting appears to be that the human body has evolved to be in motion. All body systems benefit from normal moving activities, such as walking, bending, reaching, lifting and stretching. These simple everyday movements increase circulation, reduce the production of stress-related bio-chemicals and improve overall function. Research indicates that excessive sitting may be associated with higher rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.
In a 2010 study, Australian researchers found an 18 percent increase in the risk for death from cardiovascular disease for each hour spent watching TV. This study also included an 11 percent increase in risk of death from all causes, as well as a 9 percent increase in death from cancer. One researcher from the Mayo Clinic, endocrinologist Dr. James Levine has even called sitting “the new smoking” in terms of its detrimental effects on health.
Who Is At Risk For Sitting Disease?
A number of different groups are at high risk of sitting disease and therefore associated health problems. These include office personnel who work at computers all day, students who spend long hours over their studies, people who work in cramped quarters and older people who spend long hours watching TV.
Changing work habits and including more movement in daily activities can help people in these groups to reduce their risk for greater health problems.
Can Sitting Disease Be Reversed?
Because sitting is so much of a part of everyday living, reversing this trend takes thoughtful planning. You don’t have to be an exercise extremist to get the benefits of more movement into your day. In a study of the Amish, researchers found that they, as a group, were healthier and had lower rates of many diseases, including cancer.
The researchers found that, in their culture, men walked an average of 18,000 steps each day, and women walked around 14,000 steps per day.You will find few gym facilities in these communities, but their natural lifestyle includes regular movement that benefits the entire demographic. According to experts, consciously incorporating more standing, walking, moving and talking into your day can help to improve your health risk if you are one of the people that live a sedentary lifestyle.