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Since the pandemic began a year ago, more and more of us are working from home.
For many of us, myself included, this means sitting for hours at a desk or in front of a computer.
You may feel stiff after sitting at your desk for hours at a time, maybe a little hungry. But what you may not realize is that this suddenly sedentary lifestyle is doing silent harm to your health in many other ways.
We’ve known for quite some time now that a sedentary “couch potato” lifestyle can take years off your lifespan.
But now that so many of us are more sedentary by necessity, it seems a good time to remind you of the other dangers of sitting still for too long and what you can do about it, especially considering the research connecting COVID-19 to blood clots.
8 dangers of too much sitting
- It hurts your heart. In 1949, Dr. Jerry Morris uncovered the link between lack of exercise and ill health. His research showed a significant difference in heart attack rates between London bus drivers, who sat all day, and conductors, who walked and stood on the job.
- It can shorten your life. Whether you exercise or not, sitting all day will shorten your lifespan. Reducing your seated time to three hours a day or less could add as much as two years to your life, according to studies.
- Dementia is more likely. It’s been shown time and again that exercise in any format, even simply walking around your house or up and down the stairs, can protect your brain health as you age. Moving makes your brain solve spatial and motor problems that it doesn’t have to when you’re sitting all day.
- Your odds of getting diabetes rise. And it’s not just because you’re burning fewer calories. It seems it’s the actual sitting that does it. Doctors aren’t sure why, but they think that sitting may change the way your body reacts to insulin.
- You could get DVT. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot that forms in your leg, often when you sit for too long, especially without raising your legs. DVT becomes serious if the clot breaks free and lodges in your lung. Swelling and pain often signal DVT, but many people have no symptoms at all.
- It wrecks your back. Sitting puts a lot of stress on your back muscles, neck and spine. If you tend to slouch, or are not careful about maintaining good posture, it’s even worse. And don’t be fooled by that comfortable, ergonomic chair. No matter how comfortable you get, your back will still suffer from long bouts of sitting.
- It leads to varicose veins. Blood can pool in your legs when you sit for too long. This puts added pressure on your veins, and they can swell, twist and bulge. Varicose veins put you at greater risk of DVT, and a potentially life-threatening blood clot.
Foods like leafy greens and berries that are rich in bioflavonoids can help ease varicose veins. In particular, a bioflavonoid called rutin, found in apples, figs, citrus fruits and green tea, is known to strengthen the walls of your veins, also known as your endothelium. Rutin’s effects on the endothelium stem from its ability to boost the production of nitric oxide, a naturally occurring vasodilator for healthy blood flow.
- Your cancer risk goes up. Older women who sit a lot have a higher risk of breast cancer. A sedentary lifestyle also makes you more likely to end up with colon or lung cancer.
According to Dr. Susan Gilchrist of the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, “Our findings show that the amount of time a person spends sitting prior to a cancer diagnosis is predictive of time to cancer death.”
The good news: Even light or moderate physical activity can make a difference. So, the time to get up and out of your chair is now.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
LONDON TRANSPORT WORKERS STUDY — University of Minnesota