Today, many of us have a lifestyle where we are more sedentary than active. This is not very good for our health, as our bodies are designed to move and be active.
If we look at the body as a small machine, it is made up of over 360 joints and 700 skeletal muscles that need to be exercised daily. You don't need to exercise for many hours every day, but it's important that you move your body and be aware of what you can do to keep your body strong and active.
Your blood circulation also needs you to move
It may not be something you immediately think about, but it is vital that you move for your blood circulation to have a natural flow in the body.
Blood circulation (also known as the circulatory or cardiovascular system) is the system of the heart and blood vessels that carries your blood throughout the body. It consists of the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. The heart pumps oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood into the arteries, the large blood vessels that carry the blood away from the heart and into the body's organs and tissues. When the blood reaches the organs and tissues, it exchanges oxygen and nutrients with the cells and absorbs waste products.
The oxygen- and nutrient-poor blood then returns to the heart through the veins. The blood first passes through the capillaries, which are the smallest blood vessels, where the exchange of nutrients and waste products takes place. Good blood circulation is crucial for our well-being as it ensures that our cells receive the necessary nutrients and oxygen to function, and that waste products are removed. In a healthy circulation, it is estimated that it takes about 30 seconds for the blood to circulate all the way around in one cycle.
Physical activity helps to transport the blood, so lack of exercise is one of the most common causes of poor blood circulation. Therefore, in sedentary work, it is crucial that you sit on a chair that promotes an active sitting posture and does not impede circulation.
What actually happens when we sit still and forget to move?
In the YouTube animation "Why sitting is bad for you by Murat Dalkilinç," it is nicely illustrated how the spine is made up of a series of bones and discs.
Muscles, ligaments, and tendons are attached around the spine to hold everything together. When we sit down, it is often with a rounded back and shoulders, pointing forward in an unfavorable way - it is a sitting position that puts pressure on the spine. Over time, this will wear down the spinal discs and cause pain in the back and legs. The rounded sitting position also strains your joints, ligaments, and muscles as they stretch unnaturally to adapt to the curved position of the spine.
When you slump in your back, there is less space in the chest cavity, so your lungs have less room to expand, making it difficult to breathe properly and limiting the amount of oxygen you need to fill your lungs with, which needs to be transported around the body with the blood - so you become tired and unfocused if you slouch in your back.
What effect does a sedentary lifestyle have on the brain?
Most of your working time is probably spent sitting down and using your brain to concentrate on your tasks, but ironically, long periods of sitting actually work against good concentration. Being sedentary reduces blood flow and the amount of oxygen, as mentioned earlier. Your brain requires oxygen and blood to be transported around, otherwise, your concentration will likely decrease, and you will become tired.
What happens to your body if you don't move?
Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can be associated with various types of cancer and heart diseases, and it can also contribute to diabetes, kidney, and liver problems. In fact, researchers have found that worldwide inactivity causes about 9% of premature deaths each year, which is more than 5 million people. So, what may initially seem harmless can be very detrimental to your health in the long run.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options to change your inactive lifestyle. If you have no choice but to sit for work, try switching to a chair that promotes a more upright posture. Our chairs help you sit up straight, and the seat is designed to provide an open angle of 130° making it easier for blood to flow throughout your body, preventing fatigue and lack of concentration later in the day.
If you have a height-adjustable desk, use it. Stand up a few times a day. Take a short walk for ten minutes during your lunch break, if possible. Stand up during meetings with others; "walk and talk" is also a great way to hold a meeting if feasible.
Take good care of yourself. 🌸