IONIS shared that sitting and standing for hours on end can be hugely detrimental to your health. This sounds a bit dramatic but is confirmed when we look at some statistics. According to WHO, more than 1.4bn adults globally – a fifth of the population – are not getting enough exercise, increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and cancer. When you consider that we all spend a lot of our lives – an average of around 37 years – at work, this is not surprising because most people do not exercise at work.
Common ailments can be traced to a lack of exercise. Back pain can be traced back to a lack of exercise in 90 percent of cases. The risk of developing cancer or depression also increases with a sedentary lifestyle. Topping this list of doom and gloom is a cardiovascular disease: A lack of exercise can lead to it.
Why sitting for so long have these harmful effects can be easily explained. Humans are simply not made to sit still for long periods of time. Our musculoskeletal system is a product of evolution but has hardly changed since the Stone Age, unlike our lifestyle. And our ancestors, unlike us, were hunters and gatherers and constantly on the move. One of the best things we can do for our bodies is to move them, even if only a little bit, regularly. This is entirely possible even at work if you are willing to get into office fitness!
Occupational Hazard: Lack of Exercise?
Not doing enough sport and sitting for hours on end increase the risk of falling ill, as we have mentioned. Complaints such as muscular tension or back pain can appear shortly after starting a desk job. The long-term consequences, however, are much more serious. The same applies to people who stand uninterruptedly in retail or at trade fairs, for example. Although standing desks are great, the key is a frequent change between sitting and standing, because this entails movement! The veins, and therefore the cardiovascular system, will be overworked if you have to stand all day without a break.
Sadly some of these side-effects of a sedentary life cannot be combatted in old age, after having worked all your life. Therefore, it is important to consider the effects of not exercising in the office now:
- Cardiovascular diseases: Sitting for hours without moving means your heart isn’t put to work enough. Little by little, the heart muscle gets weaker and in physically demanding situations will become overtaxed faster. Since lack of exercise also increases blood pressure, the risk of heart attack and stroke increases. Lack of exercise is even more dangerous in this respect than smoking cigarettes, some healthcare practitioners have argued.
- Weight and metabolism: People who hardly do any exercise at work put a strain on their metabolic system. We may gain weight and get metabolic problems such as insulin resistance. A serious consequence of being overweight is diabetes type 2.
- Backpain: Continuous sitting can cause people to slump over a longer period of time. The pressure on the spine is enormous in a curved sitting posture.
- Osteoporosis: Bad posture leads to shortening of the back muscles. This leads to tension in the neck and shoulder area, which in turn often causes headaches. The risk of developing arthrosis or osteoporosis increases at the age of 50 and older.
- Mental illnesses: Any job can get hectic at times. When sitting for hours on end, the body is less able to break down stress hormones. The result is a feeling of permanent stress. In addition, too little exercise in the office makes people prone to depression.
- Cancer: Sitting a lot increases the risk of developing intestinal, lung, or uterine cancer.