How Sitting at a Desk for Long Periods Affects Your Health

Health Risks of Sitting at a Desk for Long Periods

Sitting at a desk for long periods of time has a direct impact on your wellbeing.  It can affect a full spectrum of your health, from your joints to your vital organs and even your mental health. It’s important to understand this impact so that you can make the right efforts to prevent or correct those issues if you do find yourself seated for hours per day.

Sitting at a Desk for Long Periods is a Fact of Life for Millions of People

Sitting at a desk for long periods is a daily part of life for many people; and for some of us, it is a requirement. The bad news, however, is that it can be dangerous for your health. Though most aspects of life involve some risk, sitting for too long can cause a number of health problems.

Even worse is that it doesn’t take long for these impacts to begin.  You don’t have to be at a computer for 12 hours per day to experience the down sides.  Much more “normal” seated days can lead to uncomfortable or even life-threatening outcomes.

Are You Sitting at a Desk for Long Periods of Time?

You may be surprised to know what long periods of time are in terms of sitting at a desk.  If you’re seated for an hour straight without getting up, you’re already doing some potential harm to your body.  After all, when you sit that long and then get up to cross the room, you can feel that stiffness in your body. Even if it’s not enough to be painful, you can still feel that you haven’t moved around in a while.

When you’re doing that repeatedly throughout the day, you’re slowly and increasingly risking harm to your body. Now, think about how much you really are doing this throughout the day.  Most of us aren’t seated for an hour. We’re generally there for several hours, with a break or two in the middle.  This is far less relief than what health experts would recommend.  If you’re working an 8-hour day at a computer, you’re likely sitting at a desk for long periods – seven hours or more. Then you have a seat on the bus or in your car.  You sit again to eat your meals and to watch your favorite show that evening. It’s not looking good!

What Does Sitting at a Desk for Long Periods of Time Do to Your Body?

These are the top four health problems that people face when they sit for too long:

Increased Risk of Diabetes

For those of us who are couch potatoes or have desk jobs that require sitting at a desk for long periods, there is an increased risk of getting diabetes. A recent study shows that even if we were to get up and exercise for a period of time, we are still risking diabetes due to having a desk job.

High Risk of Obesity

This may not be much of a surprise; but unfortunately, it’s a cold, hard truth that those who engage in little to no exercise, perhaps because they have demanding desk jobs, are at increased risk for obesity. Many doctors have warned of the dangers of being inactive for a long period of time. This is why most doctors suggest maintaining a strict exercise regimen if you have a desk job or any other job that requires you to sit for long periods of time.

Risk of Back and Joint Problems

This may be something that everyone knows, but awareness does not seem to make it less of an issue. You are vulnerable to back problems when you have a desk job. Your muscles can tighten up and weaken and back problems like sciatica can form. Other problems that can cause you harm are pinched nerves, or even slipped discs, in your back.

Increases Mortality

The sobering fact about desk jobs is that most of us are at an increased risk of an early death due to sitting for long hours. Most of us who have desk jobs are more susceptible to heart disease, depression, stroke, and other nasty diseases. That is why it is so important to get up and move around at least as much as you sit.

What Can You Do When You Have to Sit at a Desk for Long Periods of Time?

There isn’t much we can do about sitting at a desk for long periods if we have a desk job. That said, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything at all you can do. If you have a desk job, keep these health issues in mind and remember, stay active! Here are some helpful tips:

  • Get up and stretch at least every 20 minutes, if not more
  • Get up and move around at least once per hour, if not more (running on the spot for even a minute can make a difference to getting your blood flowing and joints lubricated)
  • Practice yoga
  • Go for a quick, brisk walk at lunchtime
  • Take the stairs
  • Park farther away
  • Do something active at least once per day
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