GeneralHow Harmful is Sitting at a Desk All Day?

While anthropologists struggle to agree on how we arrived at the position we’re in today, one thing is for sure: for the vast majority of our evolutionary history, we did not spend the majority of our days sitting at desks.

In fact, desk life is a relatively modern phenomena – more people spend their workday sitting at a desk now than at any other time in history, and the effect it’s having on our bodies is overwhelmingly negative.

How sitting affects your body

The specific results of sitting for extended periods of time have direct negative effects on your body. Your hips and back become less able to support you, and your hip flexor muscles start to shorten, leading to further hip joint issues.

If you sit with bad posture or use a poorly designed workstation, that can have further negative effects on your back. One of these is compression in your spinal disks which can in turn lead to chronic degeneration, potentially crippling in the long run.

The effects of a sedentary lifestyle

While sitting itself has negative health effects, more significant are the general effects of the sedentary lifestyle associated with life spent behind a desk. There are a wide range of negative health effects resulting from a sedentary lifestyle:

Weight gain

When we move and use our muscles, we burn the calories we ingest, and in time develop muscle. When we spend excessive amounts of time sitting still, the fats and sugars that we eat aren’t burned off, and end up being stored as fat in the body. Research suggests that you need to spend around an hour every day partaking in moderately intense exercise to help fight against the negative effects of sitting still.


More and more studies are being conducted which show the link between a sedentary lifestyle and the risk of developing diabetes.

One study showed that spending just five days in bed leads to increased insulin resistance, another study showing that people who spend a lot of time sitting still are 112% more likely to get diabetes than those who live an active lifestyle.

Mental health

Unfortunately, the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle extend beyond physical ailments. While we don’t fully understand the impacts of physical activity on mental health, a lot of studies suggest that an overly sedentary lifestyle increases the likelihood that an individual will suffer from depression and anxiety.

What you can do to help

For most people, it’s not practical to change careers to something that doesn’t involve desk work. There are however a wide range of things you can do to limit the harms associated with desk life.

The most beneficial thing you can do is make sure you exercise every day. This could be cycling or walking to work, running in the morning or going to workout at the gym. Regular exercise can do a lot to combat the negatives of a sedentary lifestyle, decreasing your risk of diabetes and weight gain while having a positive impact on your mental health.

For further reading, take a look at leading resources such as the Total Restore website.

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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