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Did you know sitting could be shortening your lifespan?

Our bodies were designed for movement.

Sitting for long periods could be shortening your lifespan [iStock]

Settling into a comfy chair after a long day, phone or laptop in hand sounds like bliss. Relaxing is important, but research suggests that spending too much time sitting down might not be doing our bodies any favours.

In fact, studies have linked prolonged sitting to a shorter lifespan and an increased risk of serious health problems.

Sure, sitting for too long can leave you with a stiff back and achy legs. But the negative effects go far beyond temporary discomfort. Research suggests that prolonged sitting can increase your risk of developing chronic health conditions like:

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  • Heart disease: Sitting for long periods can make it harder for your body to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes: When you sit, your muscles don't burn sugar (glucose) as effectively. This can lead to insulin resistance, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain cancers: Studies have shown a link between prolonged sitting and an increased risk of colon, endometrial, and ovarian cancers.
  • Obesity: Sitting burns fewer calories than moving around. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and obesity, which is a risk factor for many other health problems.

Our bodies were designed for movement! Our muscles are meant to contract and our bones are meant to bear weight. When we sit for long periods, these systems don't function as efficiently.

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Here's what happens when we become couch potatoes:

  • Weakened muscles: Sitting for long periods can lead to muscle loss, especially in the legs and core.
  • Stiff joints: When our joints aren't used regularly, they can become stiff and painful.
  • Poor circulation: Sitting for long periods can slow down blood flow, which can lead to problems like varicose veins and blood clots.

The good news is that even small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference. Here are some tips to help you sit less and move more:

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1. Set sitting alarms: Use your phone or a timer to remind yourself to get up and move around every 30 minutes. Take a short walk, stretch, or do some simple exercises at your desk.

2. Take the stairs: Ditch the elevator – take the stairs whenever possible. It's a simple way to sneak in some extra activity throughout the day.

3. Walk and talk: Skip the phone call while sitting – take a walk and chat instead! This is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise while staying connected.

4. Active workstations: Consider a standing desk or a balance ball chair to encourage movement throughout the workday.

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5. Park further away: Park further away from your destination and walk the extra distance. Every step counts!

6. Make exercise a habit: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Brisk walking, biking, swimming, or dancing are all great options.

Making small changes to your daily routine can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. Start by adding a few of these tips into your day, and gradually add more as you become accustomed to moving more.

Every move counts! Even small activity throughout the day can have a positive impact on your health and well-being.

This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.

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