20th century has seen many such inventions that have been aimed at making our lives easier. But while doing so, these inventions have also made us considerably lazy! And this laziness has spilled over to our professional and personal lives, where physical activity has taken a back seat in favor of sitting.
While, we all thought that there was nothing wrong with sitting, scientific reports have now pegged prolonged sitting on a daily basis to be extremely harmful to our body. In fact a new study has found that, the more time people spent sitting down, the greater was their risk of death. Researchers from the American Cancer Society, who conducted the study have pointed out that irrespective of the amount of physical exercise that a person gets, the amount of time spent sitting will result in an increase in the death risk.
The study found that Men who sat for more than 6 hours a day were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day. Similarly for women, who reported sitting for more than 6 hours a day, the death risk increased by 37% as opposed to those who sat for less than 3 hours a day!
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With longer working hours involving our computers, we get metaphorically tied to our chairs for the better amount of the day. While there is no harm in working long hours if you are taking regular breaks, there is considerable harm if you sit slumped or with a bent back i.e. with a bad posture.
Sitting with your back bent and neck jutting out, is going to do nothing but leave you with a bad posture and back ache. Bad posture puts pressure on your spinal cord which causes the back and shoulder pain, meaning the more you slump in your chair or bend your back while sitting, the worse the pain in your back! Now add an unhealthy diet, lack of proper activity or exercise and a generally unhealthy lifestyle and what you have is a painful back which refuses to take leave and causes serious injury in some cases.
But all is not lost! Back ache can be taken care of with an improvement in one's posture by walking and sitting with your back upright and straight. along with some exercises and asanas to strengthen the back muscles.
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“Go sit in that corner”, is a common line that adults use while admonishing their children. Irrespective of whether you are an adult or child reading this, you are bound to have sat in that proverbial corner atleast a few times. But research now has shown that sitting in corners, chairs, sofa’s… or just sitting for a long period of time, in general can contribute to your weight gain and also make you unhealthy in the process!
Let’s do a little bit of math to understand how sitting is unhealthy. Starting with How many hours does a day have? 24! Good; now, how many hours do we sleep? Give or take 6-8 hours, right! So that leaves us with around 15 spare hours, out of which we spend a majority of the time sitting in chairs at our workplaces! A conclusion derived from recent studies, have found that those who exercised regularly and were healthy but sat for longer hours had larger waists and high BP along with Blood Sugar complications than their other healthy counterparts.
So what exactly is wrong with sitting? For starters, sitting is one of the most passive activities that we indulge in, unknowingly! For comparisons sake, chewing gum burns more energy than sitting on a chair, so does simply standing in one place and shifting our weight from one leg to another, even fidgeting uses more energy than sitting!
But how does sitting affect our weight? Sitting for longer periods of time without taking a break, causes slow weight gain in the territory of 2-4 kgs per year! A major part of the problem with sitting is that you are physically inactive, this physical inactivity affects the production of the lipoprotein lipase, a molecule that plays a central role in how your body processes fats. This molecule is produced by our muscles along with many tissues from our body. A reduction in this molecule leads to many health problems along with heart diseases! But here’s the shocker, active muscles are known to produce a wide range of substances that control how the body stores and uses sugars and fats and sitting for a long period of time, furthers inactivity in these muscles, increasing our health risks.
Another study on people who sat for longer hours without a break, found that they had larger waistlines as compared to their counterparts who took regular breaks to get up, stretch and walk around! They were even reported to have unhealthy profiles of sugar and fat metabolism as compared to the others.
Moral of the story, the next time you see someone sitting in a chair for a long period of time, offer a polite, “Will you please stand up”.
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