How Sitting Too Much Can Hurt Your Health

by Isadora Baum, CHC

Sitting too much in the day can be harmful to our health and wellbeing, as being sedentary takes time away from being active and utilizing our bodies. It's important to realize how sitting too much can hurt our health, explained by experts at WebMD, as it's better to give ourselves some active breaks throughout the day and maybe even squeeze in a workout (when we can!) to get our blood flowing, our muscles working, and our hearts functioning optimally.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on getting in activity and movement in the day in order to better utilize their bodies, have higher energy levels (which is great for productivity and performance during the week), and feel more fit and agile regularly. Many people have jobs where the majority of the hours are spent on a chair, on their bottoms, typing feverishly at a computer keyboard; unfortunately, all that sitting time adds up, and even getting in a workout can't make up for that fact. Thus, I always recommend taking lunch out, getting up for a few bathroom breaks, taking the stairs to go visit co-workers in other departments, and maybe doing a few exercises by your desk, such as a few squats or lunges, throughout the day. Such activity will add up and make your lifestyle less sedentary, which is great for wellbeing, energy, and happiness. Here are 11 ways that sitting can hurt your health and why.

1. Risk For Heart Disease

In interview with Bustle, Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director of BeWell Medical Group, explains that a job that requires extensive sitting in the day can put you at risk for health dangers long-term, so it's important to get some regular activity bursts throughout the day. "People who sit too much are at increased risk for heart disease...due to lack of activity (sitting more than 8 hours)," Ashe explains.

2. Lower Bone Density

Ashe explains how sitting too much can hurt your bones by reducing their strength and agility and lowering bone density count. Such decreases in bone density can increase risk of osteoporosis later in life. "Sitting too much may decrease bone strength," Ashe says, so it's important to get regular movement to keep bones healthy.

3. Increased Blood Pressure

"Sitting too much leads to increased blood pressure," says Ashe, and such increases in blood pressure can elevate risk of heart disease, stroke, and other complications related to the heart and our general wellbeing. Having high blood pressure is dangerous for longevity, so getting up and moving throughout the day will be helpful in keeping pressure at a lower level.

4. Poor Posture

Ashe says that sitting too often and for too many hours in the day can "lead to poor posture," which can set you up for complications with the back, spine, and other body parts that are directly influenced. Also, having poor posture never looks good, as a slump isn't healthy for us and it can come off as being less confident (in my opinion). I often associate tall posture and height with confidence and strength.

5. Knee, Hip & Back Pain

According to Chris Kolba, a physical therapist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, knee, hip, and back pain can be caused from tight glutes and butt muscles, which are often a result of sitting too much in the day. Kolba notes this as "dormant butt syndrome" and says that it can lead to injuries, particularly in these common areas.

6. Lower Sex Drive

According to Noah Neiman, Co-Founder and Chief Fitness Officer of Rumble Boxing over email with Bustle, sitting too much in the day can influence sex drive and can lower stamina and libido. Obviously, that's never fun, and your partner might not be too thrilled, either. Move more in the day to move more in the sheets later.

7. Weakened Immune System

Neiman says that sitting too much can weaken the immune system, which might make us have more "sick days" to call in at the office. A lower immune system makes our bodies more susceptible to germs and illness, Neiman explains, so it's important to add movement in the day to keep our wellness high.

8. Slower Metabolic Rate

Your body will more efficiently burn calories from your turkey sandwich at lunch if you take a short walk after or have some time on your feet in the hours following your meal, explains Neiman. When we sit too much in the day, our bodies can't burn as many calories and the metabolic rate is slower.

9. More Vulnerable To Stress

Neiman says that when we sit too much in the day, we are not as able to manage stress as we would be if we had the energy and blood flow from regular activity. Such stress can be bad for our health and wellbeing both short and long term, and stress can increase risk for several diseases and conditions, Neiman explains.

10. Less Sleep

According to Neiman, sitting too often in the day can mess with our sleep schedules and circadian rhythms. There's a "weakened ability to get adequate and restful sleep," Neiman emphasizes, and a lack of sleep can hurt our health by creating a hormone imbalance, making us low in energy and high in fatigue, and making us less productive in the day.

11. Impaired Cognitive Function

Neiman says that sitting too much not only affects our physical body due to lack of movement and weakened muscles, but also our minds, as it can create a "weakened cognitive function" that can lower productivity and work performance and make us have more instances of brain fog and inadequate memory and mental functioning.

Sitting too much during the day can lead to poorer health over time, and all of these consequences can hinder quality of life. It's best to reduce sitting when possible and to include regular movement between sits in order to get greater activity and help the body and brain function as optimally as possible.

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