The fact that your bills can be paid and your grocery shopping can be done from a phone is both awesome and kind of ridiculous. With so much of our lives being online, there’s plenty of reason to hang out on the couch with a computer or phone, and not a whole lot of motivation to stop.
According to the EPA, the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. Twenty-five percent of Americans spend eight hours or more of that time sitting every single day, whether at a desk, in their cars, or on the couch.
Most of the time, we don’t even see the light of day, and that’s the sad reality of it. Modern living has eliminated the need for going anywhere or doing anything outside, and we’ve become content, sedentary, caged gerbils as a result.
All of this sitting and staying indoors has culminated in a wide range of health problems, including psychological ones.
So how much sitting is too much sitting, and what can you even DO about it?
We’ve got answers.
Symptoms of Too Much Sitting
You guessed it — packing on the pounds is one of the most obvious signs that your lifestyle has become too sedentary. People at desk jobs typically only burn about 800 calories in a working day, well below half of what a typical American eats.
The result? Weight gain — and all of the other problems that come with it.
Lower Back Pain
There are tons of things that can cause lower back pain, but one thing’s for sure: if sitting isn’t causing it, it’s definitely exacerbating it. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain.
Sitting puts a lot more pressure on your lower back than standing — about 90% more according to a Cornell study. A lot of the reason has to do with poor ergonomics and posture, which can aggravate that lower back pressure and turn it into some gnarly pain.
Back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain — a LOT of forms of chronic pain can be traced back to poor posture and waaaay too much sitting. If you don’t become dependent on the painkillers first, you’ll be habitually immobilized by seemingly random flare ups with no discernible cause (or cure).
Too much sitting kicks our metabolisms down into coasting mode. The more we sit, the harder it is to find the motivation to do anything but. Complacency, lethargy, and fatigue can be caused by a combination of too much sitting, poor circulation, and not enough time in the sun.
Anxiety and Depression
Studies have recently come to light that link increased anxiety and depression with sedentary lifestyles. A combination of circumstances that tend to surround too much sitting, including hiding out in your house and watching a lot of TV, seem to exacerbate the problem.
Increased Risk for Heart Disease, Cancer, AND Diabetes
Yeesh, all you wanted to do was binge watch Jessica Jones, amiright? It turns out that all of that sitting creates a domino effect in your body, which can lead to a litany of other issues.
A combination of obesity and poor circulation caused by sitting too much increases your risk of heart disease by as much as 82%. Eighty. Two. PERCENT.
That same sitting that contributes to your increased risk for heart disease also gradually decreases your muscle mass, which lowers your insulin sensitivity and puts you at higher risk of developing diabetes.
All of these issues culminate in a higher risk for cancer. Though the exact connection is not clear, scientists speculate it’s due to the increased production of insulin in the body caused by a sedentary lifestyle, which cancer cells just can’t get enough of.
Look, we get it — there’s work. There’s Netflix. And about a dozen other perfectly legit, non-lazy reasons to sit down for hours and hours every.
But your body doesn’t care, heart disease doesn’t care, and unless you want to increase your chances for a whole mess of nasty health complications, it’s time to make some changes.
#1 — Get a Sitting and Standing Desk
Standing desks are awesome, but convertible ones are even better. Get a desk that easily moves up and down, and give yourself standing breaks at least once every hour throughout the day.
#2 — Get a Standing Chair
Okay, so it’s not quite as good as actually standing up, but these standing chairs will at least get your blood moving again. Use them to lean on if you just absolutely HAVE to have something to lean on.
#3 — Get Moving
Loss of muscle tone is a big problem here — it means you’re more susceptible to diabetes, and because you’re not very active, all kinds of other health problems. Solid muscle development lowers your chances of having to mess with back pain, obesity, heart disease, you name it.
Get active every single day, whether it’s a full-blown workout or just cleaning the kitchen instead of couch-warming while you watch something on TV. Staying upright and active will help you maintain muscle tone and improve circulation.
Not to mention, being physically productive will pull you out of any depressive funk you might have slipped into while you were sedentary.
Desk jobs are great until they turn you into a sad, tired blob. What have you done to break up long hours in the chair?