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The 10 Unexpected Negative Effects of Sitting Too Much

Updated on September 3, 2019
A man staring at his computer while sitting down.
A man staring at his computer while sitting down.

While sitting there and reading this article, go ahead and search for the negative or bad effects of sitting too long. You will most likely get a million links and when you read each of them, you’d most certainly see: obesity, cardiovascular disease, excessive belly fat, and other illnesses we usually read about in health magazines or websites. These are obvious health risks, but did you ever think about other weird ideas – hidden or non-obvious effects that too much sitting can cause?

1. Impaired Social Life

Imagine yourself sitting at your desk while the rest of your co-workers are at the water or coffee station, talking about how their weekends went by. Or think about how people mingle with each other while jogging, walking at the park, or simply going out of the office or school to have lunch.

People around you are making new friends, building and enhancing relationships, and planning for fun things to do while are seated at your own corner. You are missing a chance at happiness with other people when you spend too much time sitting.

Working alone.
Working alone.

2. Dull Career Outlook

Leaders literally “walk the talk.” You don’t find managers seated at their desk the whole time, and that’s because they get off of their seats to interact with the people around them – their direct reports, their peers, and their bosses.

While it is true that we go to work to earn a living (and not to make friends), meeting different types of people along the way and getting to experience things other than the routine desk activities widen your perspective of life. You miss out on the chance to plan for things other than your routine.

Sitting in a corner holding a laptop.
Sitting in a corner holding a laptop.

3. Erratic Appetite

Some skeptics say that sitting down lowers your desire to eat because you don’t burn calories and then you don’t feel hungry. Do you think this is true? Studies have proven that the effect of sitting down to appetite is somewhat psychological more than physical.

While seated, we get bored (and unhappy) and the natural tendency of the body is to look for something to do and one of the easiest things to do is eat. Your body craves for more food (calories) when you are bored.

Having breakfast while working.
Having breakfast while working.

4. Decreased Self Confidence

So I’m going to mention the excessive belly fat here in this article, but the more alarming effect is on your self confidence. Need I mention more? Sitting too much will not burn as much calories (and fat) as compared to getting up and exercising (or being active). If you are on the heavy side, try getting out of your seat and move around more often so you can burn more calories and look better.

In the same light as impairing your social life, sitting keeps you from communicating with other people and you lose your self confidence in conveying your ideas and talking to people. It’s a bad thing to be both physically unattractive and incommunicado at the same time!

A fat woman sitting down working.
A fat woman sitting down working.

5. Poor Posture

Posture is directly related to your physical appearance but you also have to consider the negative effects on your joints, because the joints are responsible for your posture. Our body’s main joints are those in our knees, ankles and feet, spine, shoulder, elbow, and forearm. These joints are all affected by too much. Our joints, when are too stressed, will eventually cause headache, arthritis, chronic back pain and other diseases.

Poor posture is not only a matter of physical appearance; it also has something to do with how our internal organs function. Visualize people with osteoporosis – because their bodies are bent in an unnatural way, the internal organs are not protected and supported in the normal way (upright body position) in the ideal space that the organs require, and blood circulation is affected as well.

Sitting down on the sofa.
Sitting down on the sofa.

6. Damage to Eyesight

Although sitting enables you to focus on task at hand, staring at one area for an extended time will strain your eyes. The more damage it does to your eyes if you are to stare at a computer monitor or laptop for hours.

A woman staring at her laptop.
A woman staring at her laptop.

7. Strained Muscles

Who would’ve thought that not using your muscles and joints are as equally stressful and dangerous as moving around? Our bodies were designed to move around, to be active, to do things, to survive, to live. Only because of civilization that we introduced sitting as a requirement at work.

Our abdominal muscles are unused while sitting, eventually making our muscles weak, so when the time comes to use our muscles, we either experience cramps, or much difficulty moving around.

Overworking employees.
Overworking employees.

8. Inefficiency at Work

Isn’t it ironic? Sitting enables you to focus on the work at hand, but it can also make you inefficient or unproductive. It has been scientifically proven that productivity is achieved with bursts of activity – short-timed tasks completed in a span of time.

If you have been working on your computer for one or two hours, writing up a report, and you don’t stand a single time, you strain your brain, further blocking new ideas to ponder on.

The other side of the story is that people who sit too much in the office tend to not notice killing time by doing non-work related activities such as surfing the net, reading blogs and showbiz alerts, or social media. Because you have been seated so long, you don’t realize you’ve been spending hours on unproductive stuff and none for work.

Stressed at work.
Stressed at work.

9. Ineffective Meetings and/or Gatherings

Meetings take longer to finish while seated compared to when standing. I’m referring to catch-up daily meetings or huddles. If your meeting is scheduled for less than an hour, consider standing up while chatting with co-workers and you’re sure to tackle important topics in a lesser amount of time. Sitting during meetings sometimes allows for people’s minds to wander (or tinker with gadgets and doodle on notebooks) rather than stay focused on the topic at hand.

A team meeting.
A team meeting.

10. Shorter Life Expectancy

The scariest and worst effect of sitting too much is lowering your life expectancy. Consider all the items listed above. Don’t these make you unhappy, unhealthy, and unproductive? While the direct relationship of life expectancy to oversitting has not been scientifically proven, the health reasons (both physically and psychologically) are already sufficient enough to prove the negative effects sitting has on a person.

A man looking at his laptop.
A man looking at his laptop.

Conclusion

Don't think of sitting as entirely negative though. What we’re trying to say is that too much of anything is bad, and that includes sitting excessively. The complexity involved in oversitting is that you not only experience just one or two of the effects listed above; somehow they are related to each other. It’s almost as if there’s a domino effect in that once you experience at least one of them, the other complications will follow.

There is no one way to counter the effect of sitting too much. In fact, they say that no amount of exercise can offset the ill effects of being seated for hours. Thus, rather than thinking about “fixing” the effects, as they say… prevention is better than cure. Look for ways to always keep you on your toes rather than being seated the whole time. You can start by mulling over how you don’t want these negative effects of sitting to ruin your life. Most importantly, think about how life is so beautiful and too short to spend time sitting down!

Which aspects of your life has been badly affected due to oversitting?

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    • Michael-Duncan profile image

      Michael Duncan 

      6 weeks ago from Germany

      The risks associated with oversitting are considerably underrated in the modern setting where technology has taken over so many activities that were previously done manually (and healthily too, one might add).

      Its a wake-up call especially when it has now been confirmed that the effects of sitting are worse than smoking especially with regard to the impact on one's lifespan.

      Reminders are necessary, and thankfully, your article does that quite effectively (I certainly need to make use of my standing desk more often!). Thanks for highlighting this concern through a thoughtful and well-argued delivery. Cheers!

    • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

      Evane 

      3 years ago from Philippines

      @ MsDora Thank you. Have you been sitting too much? If not, why? If yes, what are you doing to combat the negative effects?

    • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

      Evane 

      3 years ago from Philippines

      @vkwok CORRECT! How about you? Have you been sitting too much?

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      3 years ago from Hawaii

      This is something I'm sure a lot of millennials should read.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Well thought-out good points and helpful suggestions. You do a really good presentation.

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