Top 10 Terrible Things Constant Sitting Does to Your Body
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
It's time to start moving. For this list, we'll be looking at the most destructive things constant sitting and no exercise does to the human body. Our countdown includes Ruins Your Back, Diabetes Risk, Increased Cancer Risk, and more.
Top 10 Terrible Things Constant Sitting Does to Your Body
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Terrible Things Constant Sitting Does to Your Body.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most destructive things constant sitting and no exercise does to the human body.
Should you start getting some exercise? Let us know in the comments below!
#10: Ruins Your Back
To the surprise of no one, sitting all day hunched over a computer screen or a phone wreaks havoc, not only on your neck and shoulders, but on your back as well. Sitting - particularly in a slouched position - puts a ton of strain on your poor back. It has the ability to compress your spine, which will lead to horrible chronic pain later in life. Luckily, there are a few ways to mitigate the disaster. Experts recommend standing and going for a little walk every half hour or so, and ergonomic chairs can do wonders for back health and proper posture.
#9: Varicose Veins
Gravity keeps your chair pinned to the ground. But it also causes the blood in your body to pool in your legs. Over enough time and with a significant lack of exercise, this could result in varicose veins. These are instantly recognizable, as the veins in your legs become twisted and pronounced. The good news is that varicose veins rarely cause any debilitating physical symptoms, although they can result in pain. For the most part, varicose veins are purely cosmetic. Unfortunately, this also has a tendency to cause some type of psychological torment or embarrassment in the victim.
Unfortunately, osteoporosis is quite common in older adults. A bone disorder, osteoporosis occurs when your bones deteriorate in both mass and tissue, leaving them very susceptible to breaking. Even the most minor of accidents can result in a fractured bone, and it typically occurs in more “serious” areas like the hips and the back. It’s estimated that osteoporosis hits roughly 15% of adults over the age of fifty, and 70% of those over eighty. And yes, a lack of exercise throughout adulthood, combined with things like a bad diet and smoking, can absolutely increase your chances of getting osteoporosis.
#7: Negate Exercise
Unfortunately, exercise isn’t a “do it one time and immediately feel better” type of thing. It’s a way of life, and remaining healthy requires constant exercise. Sitting too much has the unfortunate ability to completely negate any exercise that you may have performed. For example, going for an hour-long hike in the morning and then coming home and crashing on the couch for ten hours will not do anything. The time spent on the couch will vastly overpower whatever effects that hike had on the body. Experts recommend that you just keep moving, whether that’s going for another walk or simply getting up and stretching from time to time.
#6: Diabetes Risk
It’s estimated that a little more than 8% of the entire world’s population suffers from diabetes. It’s an extraordinarily common disorder, and a lack of exercise only increases your chances of getting it. In fact, sitting all day can increase your chances of getting diabetes by as much as 112%. One study published in the medical journal “Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology” proved that a sedentary lifestyle greatly increases insulin resistance. This in turn can lead to diabetes, which can then lead to a host of more serious complications. These include strokes, heart disease, kidney failure, and cognitive impairment.
#5: Anxiety Spike
Yes, constant sitting and a lack of exercise can even cause anxiety and depression. This is partly why exercise is so commonly recommended in those suffering from poor mental health. Unfortunately, doctors and medical experts don’t really know why this happens. But they know that it does. Physical activity has long been known to have mental as well as physical benefits, and by sitting all day, we’re depriving our bodies of these essential benefits. Without them, we become more withdrawn, more depressed, and more anxious. The anxiety itself can then cause even more physical symptoms, and it becomes a self-destructive spiral of worry and agitation.
#4: Deep Vein Thrombosis
It should be obvious, but sitting too long really messes with your legs. Those are meant to be used, and they have a real hard time when they aren’t. A lack of movement can result in deep vein thrombosis, or DVT for short. Unfortunately, this is a far more serious condition than varicose veins. DVT is when a blood clot forms in the legs, causing pain and swelling. But it can also result in far more serious complications. If left untreated, the clot can detach from the leg and travel to the lungs. This in turn can lead to a pulmonary embolism, which can result in cardiac arrest and sudden death. It’s estimated that 10,000 Americans die in this manner every year.
#3: Increased Cancer Risk
If there’s one thing we all fear, it’s the big c. And if you don’t want to get it, you’d better stand up and start moving. Of course, cancer can hit anyone at any time. That’s why it’s so terrifying. But living a sedentary lifestyle greatly increases your chances of getting it, especially at a younger age. While no one is really sure why it happens, numerous studies have shown a relation between a lack of exercise and an increased risk of cancer. While any type is theoretically possible, the most common cancers associated with a sedentary lifestyle are of the colon, uterine, and lung varieties.
#2: Heart Health
If there’s one organ that really hates sitting, it’s your heart. That thing loves to pump blood through your body. It was literally made for it. And when the heart isn’t used, it gets sulky. Countless studies have linked sedentary lifestyles to poor heart health. In one, scientists studied two groups of people with similar diets - one group sat all day as drivers, the other group walked as security guards. They found that the drivers were twice as likely to get heart disease. Many other studies follow in this manner, with the conclusions typically finding a correlation between prolonged sitting and cardiovascular disease. So get moving! Your heart will thank you.
#1: It Shortens Your Life
This is all to say that if you sit all day, every day, your odds of prematurely dying significantly increase. Maybe you develop lung cancer. Maybe you suffer a heart attack in middle age because it wasn’t used enough. Maybe you get diabetes and suffer kidney failure. Maybe you suffer a pulmonary embolism and die from a random heart attack. Sitting on the couch all day may sound relaxing, but it significantly messes with your body and will lead to countless problems later in life. When you’re eighty and healthy, you’ll thank yourself for going for that walk instead of watching the next episode.