We all know that a healthy lifestyle involves regular exercise and nutritious food, But what about prolonged sitting? A sedentary lifestyle could be equally harmful to our health and well-being if we’re not careful. In this article, our exercise physiologists in Hurstville will provide insights on how sitting too much affects Australians’ health, the risks, and some tips on staying active and healthy.
Why is prolonged sitting as harmful as smoking?
Sitting is the new smoking, linked to various health issues these days. Research has shown that a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancer.(1) It is also associated with an increased risk of depression and premature death.(1)
In connection above, there are many reasons why Australians could be sitting too much, from long work hours and desk jobs to spending time on digital devices. It’s essential to understand the effects of a sedentary lifestyle so we could take steps to be healthier and more active.
What does a sedentary lifestyle mean?
A sedentary lifestyle is defined by sitting for long periods without physical activity. This could include working in an office, watching TV, using a computer or phone for extended periods, or engaging in other activities that don’t involve movement. Adults in Australia are recommended to engage in at least 3 hours of physical activity per day.
Is prolonged sitting worse than smoking?
Some studies have linked prolonged sitting with an increased possibility of all-cause fatalities, even in otherwise healthy people.(2) For instance, the Heart Foundation’s 2018 study found that 82% of individuals with blood clots primarily sat for long periods.
According to the Better Health Channel, nearly half of working people are estimated to spend a majority of their workday sitting.
This takes us to a discussion of the dangers and risks associated with prolonged sitting, which we will delve into.
Health Effects of Prolonged Sitting
A sedentary lifestyle is linked to numerous health issues. These are the most common risks associated with sitting too much:
- Increased risk of obesity – Sitting for extended periods could lead to increased calorie intake and decreased physical activity, resulting in weight gain or obesity.
In a study, researchers found that those who spent more than eight hours a day sitting were more likely to increase likelihood of mortality, similar to the risks of smoking and obesity.
- Higher blood pressure – Prolonged sitting could lead to increased blood pressure as the body is not exposed to any movement or exercise.
- Reduced fitness levels – When we don’t move often, our body’s fitness levels could lead to decreased cardiovascular health and weaker muscles.
- Poor mental health – A sedentary lifestyle could also negatively affect your mental health as it could lead to feelings of boredom or apathy.
- Increased risk of chronic diseases – Prolonged sitting could increase the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.
How to combat sedentary behaviour?
1. Make time for physical activity
Make sure you set aside some time each day to do some form of physical activity. This doesn’t need to be a full-blown workout, but any exercise such as yoga, walking, or cycling may help keep your body active and reduce the risks associated with sitting too much.
2. Take a break from sitting every 30 mins
If you have a desk job, ensure you get up Incorporate short breaks from sitting into your routine every 30 minutes throughout the day. A few minutes of walking or stretching may benefit your health and well-being.
Knowing the side effects of sitting too long on the computer will help you break it up gradually.
3. Stand instead of sit
Try to stand instead of sitting for long periods. This could mean standing when talking on the phone or using a standing desk for work.
Please note that the recommended sitting time is usually less than four hours a day, according to Just Stand Organisation.
4. Get creative with movement
If you’re struggling to fit exercise into your schedule, try getting creative and finding ways to incorporate movement into everyday activities. This could be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking or cycling to work instead of driving, or even taking dance breaks throughout the day.
5. Connect with others
Staying connected with friends and family is also beneficial for your mental health. This might be done through physical activity such as a group fitness class or walking together.
6. Track your progress
Finally, tracking your progress is a great way to stay motivated and on track with leading a healthier lifestyle. This could be as simple as recording how many minutes of physical activity you do each day or even writing down how you feel after doing some exercise.
7. Seek professional help
If you’re struggling to make lifestyle changes or need more advice on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice from your doctor.
At Healthstin, we are committed to promoting healthy habits and helping you minimise the risks associated with prolonged sitting. We believe that with a bit of creativity and dedication, you can easily incorporate regular physical activity and breaks into your daily routine. To ensure your well-being, we encourage you to take your health seriously and make time for physical activity. If you live in Hurstville and would like to work with an Exercise Physiologist, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 1300 090 931 or via email at email@example.com. We’re here to help you lead a happier, healthier life!
Disclaimer: The information is general and does not take into account your personal situation. This information is intended to show you the correct exercise technique and should not be used to self-diagnose or self-treat any medical condition. If your pain persists or you have difficulty performing exercise, see your experienced Exercise Physiologist for proper guidance on 1300 090 931.
1 Park JH, Moon JH, Kim HJ, Kong MH, Oh YH. Sedentary Lifestyle: Overview of Updated Evidence of Potential Health Risks. Korean J Fam Med. 2020 Nov;41(6):365-373. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.20.0165. Epub 2020 Nov 19. PMID: 33242381; PMCID: PMC7700832. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7700832/
2 Biddle SJ, Bennie JA, Bauman AE, Chau JY, Dunstan D, Owen N, Stamatakis E, van Uffelen JG. Too much sitting and all-cause mortality: is there a causal link? BMC Public Health. 2016 Jul 26;16:635. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3307-3. PMID: 27456959; PMCID: PMC4960753. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960753/