Sitting for prolonged periods of time results in muscles burning less fat and blood running more slowly through the body, allowing for fatty acids to settle and clog the heart. Excessive periods of sitting have been linked to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Our pancreas produces insulin which is the hormone that carries glucose (sugar) to our cells to provide energy. However, when we sit for long periods of time and our muscles become idle, the cells do not respond as readily to insulin and as a consequence glucose remains in the blood and does not get to our cells. This puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
People who sit for long periods of time are at increased risk for a slipped disk. When we sit for a long time, disks are squashed unevenly and lose their sponginess. Spines which are not moved for long periods of time become less flexible. Moving around frequently will allow the disks between the vertebrae to expand and contract and soak up fresh nutrients from the blood.
There is emerging evidence which suggests that prolonged sitting can lead to an increased risk of developing colon, breast and endometrial cancers. This evidence is inconclusive as to the reason behind this, but one theory is the increased insulin from the hyperactive pancreas is conducive to cell growth.
Spending prolonged time sitting often causes us to slump in our chairs, which results in our abdominal muscles being unused. Weak abs and tight back muscles will result in poor posture that can exaggerate the curves natural curve.
Strained neck & sore shoulders
When we sit for excessive time at a computer, we tend to crane our necks forwards over our keyboard. Over time, this can strain our cervical vertebrae. This slumping forward also over extends the shoulder and back muscles, in particular the trapezius, which connects the neck and shoulders.
Prolonged sitting results in slow blood circulation around the body, which can cause blood pooling in the legs. Consequences range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to dangerous blood clots.
The negative effects of prolonged sitting are not just physical, but you may experience mental side effects too. Movement encourages blood to be pumped all around the body, including to the brain. However, when we are stationary for long periods, blood circulation slows resulting in impaired brain activity.
Higher amounts of sitting might be associated with a higher risk of psychological distress. Recent evidence suggests that increased sedentary time might increase depressive symptoms due to reduced exposure to social situations, while decreased sedentary time is associated with a reduced risk of depression.