Our bodies were not designed to sit for hours on end, however, most people report long hours of sitting each day. Many health concerns are associated with long periods of sitting, some which we will discuss below. The good thing is that some of these issues can be reversed, and your body will thank you for it in the long run.
Your posture is most important, with a lot of stress being put on your back and neck when sitting for too long. The longer you sit, the more tense your back becomes, thus causing more pain when you stand and begin to move.
Sitting for long periods also causes tension in your hips, knees, and feet. As they get stiff over time, they are in a small state of shock when you go to stand and move around quickly (which you can often feel when you begin to walk).
So, what can you do to help your muscles and body if you are tied to a chair for long periods of time? Here are six tips that your body will thank you for later:
1. Back, hip, and neck pain
The most common risk when sitting for too long is back, hip, and neck pain or tightness. No matter how physically healthy your body may be, sitting for too long causes these muscles to tighten up, and could lead to bigger issues down the road.
2. Depression and anxiety
If you are sitting all day rather than moving, you are at a higher risk of experiencing depression and anxiety. It is human nature for the body to be engaged and moving, so sitting all day and not exercising can have negative effects on your mental state as well. Studies show that the more you move around throughout the day, the happier you are.
3. Obesity and other heart problems
Obesity or general weight gain is a common threat when sitting too long as fewer calories are being burned. Moving allows your body to release molecules that process the fat and sugars you eat. In a sedentary position, it is also common for inflammation and cholesterol levels to increase.
4. Weak bones
Sitting is often associated with weakened muscles and fragile bones. When you stand and walk, your skeleton is exercised and stretched in a positive way as your cells replace old bone with new. By standing and walking you strengthen your leg and glute muscles – preventing future injuries – which is especially important when you get older.
5. Risk of diabetes
Studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can change the body’s metabolism and shows increased insulin resistance – which is a sign of diabetes. By reducing time spent sitting, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
6. Varicose veins
Sitting for too long can also lead to circulation issues. As you’re sitting, your brain must work harder to pump blood from your veins to your heart. Swelling in your ankles is a common problem, and in some cases can cause blood clots. It is important to get up and move around to reduce the risk of blood pooling and speed up the circulation throughout your body.
Many of the above conditions are preventable if you are aware and conscious of how you treat your body. If you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for long periods of time, remember to get up, take breaks, go for a walk, meditate, drink water, and stretch out your body when possible (especially your shoulders and neck). It is important to keep your body active for a healthy mind and body, and reducing your time spent sitting in your chair is a great place to start.
At GSGF, we know the importance of yoga and meditation for the mind and body, so we will offer programs to all our children. You can also visit https://greenschoolsgreenfuture.org/shop-sustainably/ and purchase products to help combat those muscle aches from sitting for too long.
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Written By Cassandra Briscoe