If you exercise for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week, you’re doing your body a big favor. But what are you doing during the rest of your waking hours? If the answer is “mostly sitting,” you are at risk for heart disease, back pain and eye problems, among other issues — even if you exercise up to an hour daily.
Studies show that more than half of the average person’s waking hours are spent sitting: watching television, working at a computer, commuting, or doing other physically inactive pursuits. Researchers and doctors used to think of physical activity and sedentary behavior as mutually exclusive behaviors. Now, scientists are beginning to understand that many physically active people also are sedentary, and that physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle may be distinct risk factors that operate through different physiological mechanisms.
While sitting down is usually associated with being relaxed, it can end up putting a lot more stress on your joints and muscles than you might initially expect. The following are common conditions that may occur as a result of prolonged sitting according to our orthopedic doctors in Boca Raton:
- Heart Problems
An increase in sitting time raises your chances of developing cardiovascular problems like blood clots, heart disorders, blood vessels being narrowed by fat accumulation, rising cholesterol levels, strokes, etc. All are due in part to the slower flow of the blood in the body and slower or reduced fat burning by the muscles. In fact, these long hours are believed to increase your risk for heart disease significantly.
Yes, sitting too long actually affects your digestion. Settling into your chair soon after a meal leads to the compression of the contents in the abdomen, which slows down the process of digestion.
Long hours of sitting increases the release of insulin into our bloodstream. The body reacts to this increased insulin production by storing fat. This is a very significant factor that contributes to obesity in people. For those who are already overweight or obese, sitting makes it that much easier to gain more weight or hold on to what you have.
Orthopedic problems associated with long sitting according to orthopedic doctors in Boca Raton
Here are just few of the examples of how prolonged sitting affects our musculoskeletal system:
- Neck Problems
Hunching over your desk puts an additional 60 lbs of extra pressure on your spine, causing wear and tear to your spinal cord, disc degeneration, herniation, nerve damage, headaches, compromised shoulder function, and compromised athletic function.
- Shoulder Dysfunction
Slumping over in a chair creates internally rotated shoulders which can cause shoulder impingement, rotator cuff dysfunction, instability, “douchebag” shoulder, and general shoulder pain.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Sitting with rounded shoulders with poor neck position can cause compromised neurodynamics and collapsed nerve tunnels, which can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if you work at the computer with a poor ergonomic setup.
- Low Back Pain
Too much sitting is the root cause of non-specific low back pain, stenosis, and disk pathology. This and neck problems are identified by orthopedic doctors in Boca Raton as the most frequent orthopedic problems occuring as a result of a sedentary lifestyle.
Sitting is a contributing factor to hernias because sitting trains the abdominal wall to function poorly, making sitters more susceptible to the disorder.
- Hip Dysfunction
It is not natural for your hip to be at a 90 degree angle all day. Sitting causes compromised hip function, impingement which leads to osteoarthritis, shortening of tissues, and compromised athletic ability.
- Knee Problems
Too much sitting can lead to the quadriceps and calves becoming shorter and tensing up, which can lead to mechanical knee pain.
- Lower Extremity Problems
Decreased muscular activity caused by sitting leads to decreased lymphatic flow and increased lower extremity congestion and swelling (aka ”cankles”).
Want to find out more about smart sitting?
Read an article by our orthopedic doctors in Boca Raton on how to prevent yourself from developing sitting-caused conditions: 5 tips for smart sitting habits – avaiable soon!
Need more information? Ask Orthopaedic Surgery Associates in Boca Raton or Boynton Beach
Whether it’s post-injury help or consultation about your first symptoms, our orthopedic doctors in Boynton Beach or Boca Raton provide total management of patient care in Palm Beach County. If you’d like to find out more about us, our doctors, and our facilities, or you want to make an appointment, contact us. We will help you stay healthy and happy!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.