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Is sitting the new smoking?

Recent studies have found sitting for prolonged periods a day presents a similar risk of dying as smoking and obesity. According to an article in the New York Times, sitting for one hour at a time has the same health effect on your body as smoking two cigarettes. This is a huge problem for 85 percent of Americans who sit at their desks for eight hours during the workday.

Studies have linked prolonged sitting to a higher risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, hypertension, obesity, depression and other serious health issues. Unfortunately, while exercising has many health benefits, it might not negate all the effects of sitting.

As you sit, deposits of plaque can build up in your coronary arteries that exercise might not be able to remove. This can cause heart disease and a variety of other cardiovascular issues in the body.

Additionally, sitting reduces muscle activity, which can slow down the body’s metabolic rate. When this happens, the body has a difficult time properly digesting food and removing unwanted fats. Researchers find it can also affect the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. Not only can this make you hungrier, but it can also lead to diabetes and obesity.

What can you do prevent the effects of sitting?

There are two main ways that you can prevent the effects of sitting all day. First, researchers say to stand up from your desk every hour. This does not have to be a long walk, just enough to get your muscles moving and blood flowing around your body. Second, use a standing desk or walking treadmill. If it’s difficult for you to stand all day initially, try standing for 45 minutes and sitting for 15 minutes.

Researchers also suggest:

  • Using the bathroom farthest away from your desk
  • Going for a walk or working out over lunch
  • Taking the stairs, instead of the elevator
  • Parking in a spot farthest away from your office building
  • Doing small exercises while you watch television at night

If you are suffering from a health condition and you believe it could be from the effects of sitting at work, it might be beneficial to look into a claim for workers’ compensation.

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