Smoking is injurious to health. A cigarette is made from 4000 chemicals out of which 43 are carcinogenic i.e. cancer-causing. There are around 120 million smokers in India. 4 lakh deaths are due to smoking. This tobacco epidemic seems to have got a new competitor, the sedentary epidemic.
People with a sedentary lifestyle and smokers are now on the same boat. They both have the risk of dying ten years earlier than any other normal adult.
Some of us have jobs that require 6-10 hours of sitting in front of a desktop. Some of us can’t stop watching an engaging web series. We think merely sitting for so long won’t harm us. But we are doing a mistake in thinking so. Sitting for long durations, without any other physical activity can cause great harm to our body and mind. The dangers are the same as the dangers caused by smoking. Sitting has become the new smoking.
The most severe effect sitting for prolonged hours has in the body is on the heart and its circulatory system. Our blood vessels and their master – the heart is made in such a way that they require the body to be upright for working properly. When we sit, our blood flow slows down. The fatty acids in the blood burn slowly. As a result, they start accumulating in the blood vessels. This paves the way for coronary heart diseases and cardiovascular disorders. There is an increased risk of a heart attack or even heart failure. Obesity is the second most obvious consequence of a sedentary lifestyle. Clinically, obesity results from taking more calories than required. Our body burns very little calories when we are sitting. It doesn’t require as many calories as we eat for our breakfast or lunch. These excess calories take the
shape of fat layers and get stored, unnecessarily in the body. These excess calories are a storehouse of diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and high blood pressure. People with obesity are more likely to possess metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms and risk factors leading to multiple diseases together which include diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, low levels of good cholesterol, and high levels of bad cholesterol.
Not just our body and heart, sitting without interruption for long at our work desk has ill effects on our brain. It affects memory power. our brain’s ability to remember and its daily functioning is impaired. Gradually it leads to a condition called dementia. Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect at least two more brain functions. Although it is not a disease, it turns chronic over several years and can cause serious mental and social implications.
The hip and leg muscles are also affected. Sitting in the wrong posture, makes the gluteal muscles lengthen. Hip flexors become tight. As these muscles work unusually, the other muscles in the body have to work differently to compensate. This gives rise to frequent body aches and poor body alignment. Lastly, it is surprising yet true, according to recent research, that sitting for long can cause cancer. The answer to how it is possible is still not known.
Meanwhile, researchers have also found out that the cure to conditions arising from sitting more, is sitting less. If your work demands you to sit for many hours, you need to get up, walk for around 5 minutes, and then resume work. Small breaks in every 45 minutes is a very big step towards preventing harm to the body. By far, it is found to be the best method to tackle the complications of sedentary living. Physical activity is very important. An adult should exercise at least one hour every day. While making a choice out of many ways of spending our time, we ought to ensure that we chose a way that restores our lost energy
and cheers us up. A hobby or game can give us much needed physical and mental relaxation. Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. We should involve ourselves in something that keeps us alert, active, and youthful. Only then we will be able to live our life contently and without any fear of diseases.