How much sitting a day is healthy? Why it can be as bad as SMOKING for your health

Office workers are “dangerously sedentary” and sit down more than the over-75s, according to recent research.

This worrying trend of more sitting than moving is having a devastating impact on our overall health, with some experts warning it is just as dangerous as smoking.

These stats included those who work from home, too.

Sitting puts a strain on our backs, hamstrings (the muscles at the back of our thighs), necks and shoulders, and causes the gluteal muscles in our bottoms to wither, especially when we slouch.

For these reasons, living a sedentary lifestyle can be dangerous to your health.

The less sitting you do during the day, the better your chances for living a healthy life.

How much sitting is too much?

Too much sitting and too little exercise, among other things, might irritate and inflame the sciatic nerve, the largest in the human body.

The sciatic nerve runs from the bottom of the spine though the hips and down the back of the leg, which is where a person will feel the pain when it is pinched.

“It will radiate from the hip and might be mild, sharp, tingly, numb or even like an electric shock,” added WebMD.

Your hips and back will not support you if you sit for long periods.

Sitting causes your hip flexor muscles to shorten, which can lead to problems with your hip joints.

Sitting for long periods can also cause problems with your back, especially if you consistently sit with poor posture or don’t use an ergonomically designed chair or workstation.

Poor posture may also cause poor spine health such as compression in the discs in your spine, leading to premature degeneration, which can be very painful.

“Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are often used to lessen pain and inflammation for arthritis and other painful hip problems,” says WebMD.

The health site added: “Most are pills, but creams and gels are also available.

“Your doctor can help you treat more serious pain and underlying conditions with corticosteroids, pain relievers, and drugs to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”

A study of older women found that sitting for more than 10 hours a day meant their bodies were biologically eight years older.

German researchers have shown the risks of some cancers – bowel, endometrial (womb lining) and lung – increases with every two hours spent in a chair.

When you sit, you use less energy than you do when you stand or move.

Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns.

They include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Impact of sitting on your mental health
Not moving enough throughout the day can also impact a person’s mental health.

Recently published research found people who spend more time sitting were more likely to have symptoms of depression.

However, researchers emphasised that finding an “association” between sitting and mental health is not the same as saying more sitting causes depression.

“If you’re no longer walking down the hall for in-person meetings, you can still incorporate that break from sitting by taking a short walk before and after your Zoom call,” Jacob Meyer, assistant professor of kinesiology, said.

People working from home can try walking around the block before and after the workday to mimic their pre-pandemic commute, which Meyer said can benefit people physically and mentally, and help add structure to the day.