Sitting down is something that is slowly creeping further into everyone’s lives. The average person is spending over six hours seated per day. Most of us sit down to eat breakfast, to drive to work, while working at a desk, to drive home, eat dinner and then relax on the couch for some down time. Does this sound like you? Below are some of the effects of prolonged sitting.
Weak Legs and Glutes
If you don’t use them, you lose them! By sitting all day, you’re not depending on your powerful, lower body muscles to hold you up. This leads to muscle atrophy, which is the weakening of these muscles. Without strong leg and glute muscles to stabilise you, your body is at risk of injury.
Moving causes your muscles to release molecules such as lipoprotein lipase, which helps process the fats and sugars you eat. When you spend most of your day sitting, the release of these molecules is lessened and your rear end is at greater risk of widening, according to research. You’re also at greater risk for metabolic syndrome, even if you exercise. One study found, unsurprisingly, that men who spent more time sitting than usual, gained more weight around the middle, which is the most dangerous place to store fat.
Decreased Balance and Co-ordination
As children we ran around outside in bare feet, climbed trees and threw balls. As adults those types of activities often get lost in a hectic working day. Not only are these activities fun, they also provide us with external stimulus that we don’t get day-to-day. So it is no surprise that we begin to lose our balance and hand-eye coordination.
Tight Hips and a Bad Back
As with your leg and glute muscles, your hips and back will suffer from sitting. Sitting causes your hip flexors to shorten, and your seated position can also hurt your back, particularly if you have bad posture or don’t use an ergonomic chair. Also, poor posture while sitting can cause compression on the discs in your spine and can lead to premature degeneration, which results in chronic pain.
Sitting for long periods of time can cause blood to pool in the legs. This can lead to varicose veins, or spider veins, a smaller version of the former. Though generally not harmful themselves, these swollen and visible veins can be unsightly. In rare cases, they can lead to more serious conditions, like blood clots.
Stiff Shoulders and Neck
As with your legs, butt, and lower back, your shoulders and neck will also suffer from prolonged sitting. This is especially true if you’re hunched over looking at a computer screen.
The main message to take away from this is that we are designed to move, but more importantly move through a full range of motion. Ensure you also do a variety of movements to avoid developing muscle imbalances and work on your weaknesses.
Talk to your Coach if you believe you are suffering from any of these symptoms and want to learn ways to work through a full range of motion outside of your gym sessions.