• Scientists have found that spending a considerable amount of time sitting is incredibly damaging to our health.
  • A 2017 study concluded that sitting for prolonged periods could even result in early death. 
  • Business Insider Sub-saharan Africa takes a look at the seven ways a sedentary lifestyle can ruin your health — and what to do to counter these harmful effects.

Many years ago, human beings engaged in several physical activities from farming to walking for miles since there were few cars.

Now, there are less manual labour jobs and more office jobs which means most people sit all day at work and spend their evenings on the couch watching TV or playing video games.

Afro-american man intently watching game on tv, sitting on sofa (Shutterstock)
Afro-american man intently watching game on tv, sitting on sofa (Shutterstock)

The result of this sedentary lifestyle with little or no physical activity is everything from osteoporosis (when bones become weak and brittle) to heart diseases and even early death.

Here are seven ways sitting all day at your desk is slowly killing you:

  • Osteoporosis

This condition, which is when bones become weak and brittle, used to be found among the elderly. Now, it is present in younger people, even those in their 30s. Doctors blame this on prolonged periods of sitting.

Young people are now facing the risk of osteoporosis
Young people are now facing the risk of osteoporosis
BusinessInsider USA Images
  • Weight gain/obesity

Research has shown that sitting for long periods slows metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to break down body fat.

  • Depression/mental health disorders

Science has linked the sedentary lifestyle to an increased risk of depression.

Sitting for too long can result in an increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders.   [Credit: Mental Health America of Northeast Indiana]
Sitting for too long can result in an increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders. [Credit: Mental Health America of Northeast Indiana]

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  • Heart diseases

Researchers have associated prolonged sitting with an 18 percent increased risk of dying of cardiovascular diseases.

  • Cancer

There is a 17 percent increased risk of dying from cancer and about a 13 percent increase in the risk of being diagnosed with cancer if you sit for too long.

  • High blood pressure

Sitting for many hours can negatively affect the body's ability to regulate blood pressure.

  • Early death

Back in 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that approximately 2 million deaths per year are attributed to physical inactivity and sedentary living.

After analyzing data collected over 15 years, a 2017 study also found that sedentary lifestyles could result in an increased risk of early death.

Solutions

While we can not completely escape living sedentary lifestyles, we can counter the harmful effects by doing the following:

  • Exercising - Recent research has shown that high levels of exercise can lessen some of the deadly risks associated with prolonged sitting.  2016 studies found that exercising for 60 to 75 minutes a day should “eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time.”
  • Parking further away from your office so you can walk.
  • Setting reminders on your phone to stand and move around every 30 minutes or hour.
  • Taking walks during lunch breaks.
  • Taking the stairs instead of using the elevator.
  • Doing chores around the house.
Happy couple doing chores
Happy couple doing chores
  • Using phone calls as an excuse to walk around.
  • Spending less time watching television, playing video games or on your phone.

In conclusion, make as many excuses as possible to walk throughout the day.