How to Manage the Dangers of Sitting?

A sedentary lifestyle negatively affects people’s health. Less sitting, more moving – scientists say. Is it really a way to attenuate sedentary behavior’s impact on our body and health?

Key takeaways:
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    The World Health Assembly plan is to reduce physical inactivity by 15% by 2030.
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    Moderate physical activity can attenuate sedentary behavior’s impact on all-cause mortality only for those who had little physical activity previously.
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    High TV-viewing time for >3 hours a day does not eliminate an increased risk of diseases or mortality.
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    Inclusion of dynamic chairs, short exercises, or micro-breaks during working hours can manage the dangers of sitting at work.

A sedentary lifestyle impacts the human body and raises a lot of health problems from blood circulation to musculoskeletal disorders. It is important to reduce sedentary lifestyle-related health disorders. The World Health Assembly approved a new plan to increase physical activity from 2018 – 2030. This plan will be for adults and adolescents to reduce physical inactivity by 15% by 2030. The numbers are promising, therefore, the action plan must be implemented.

Can we manage the dangers of sitting?

Low physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle had a positive association with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. There is a study that showed that physical activity can attenuate sedentary behavior’s impact on all-cause mortality. It means that high levels of moderate-intensity (60-70 minutes a day) physical activity can reduce mortality even if you sit for >8 hours a day but not as much if you would sit for <4 hours a day.

However, the offset of impacts of a sedentary lifestyle was seen for people who had little physical activity. So, it means that a little physical activity is necessary even for a small reduction of health issues.

But important to mention, that high TV-viewing time for >3 hours a day does not eliminate an increased risk of diseases or mortality. The question may rise, why is it so? People who watch television mostly snack at the same time, that’s why watching television leads to worse outcomes.

Recommendations in the U.S. for the reduction of a sedentary lifestyle

All countries have prepared and periodically refresh recommendations on physical activity. What must be a physical activity to reduce all-cause mortality, cardiovascular diseases, or musculoskeletal disorders?

  • For inactive people: reduce sitting time and replace it with light physical activity and gradually increase it.
  • For the people who do not meet the criterion of 150-300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity need to increase moderate physical activity to get more benefits for their health.
  • For active people who meet the criterion of 150-300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity need to reduce sedentary behavior.
  • For highly active people who engage in more than 300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity: maintain or increase physical activity level.

How do we know when we achieve light, moderate, or high-intensity physical activity?

  • Light physical activity – for example, light walking.
  • Moderate physical activity – will raise heart rate, and make breathing faster.
  • High physical activity – breathing hard and fast, and it’s difficult to talk.

What can we do more to manage the dangers of sitting?

People spend time not only sitting at home during their leisure time, but also they sit more than half of their working day at the office. So, physical activity integration during working hours is a priority.

But what physical activity at work can be helpful to reduce the prolonged sitting consequences?

Dynamic chairs. A lot of different chairs are suggested with different backrests, head, and lumbar spine support to improve sitting behavior during prolonged hours in the office. However, the dynamic chair is an additional choice at the office to make body workout and decrease the negative effect of a static position. Dynamic chairs are chairs, which increases the ability to maintain balance in sitting.

Very often, dynamic chairs are used to reduce sitting-related musculoskeletal disorders. According to a study, dynamic chairs can decrease the negative effects of prolonged sitting by increasing small movements of the spine and promoting proper spine curvatures. A healthy sitting posture is active with regular movements which can help for lumbar postural health.

The study which analyzed blood circulation during sitting on an active seat showed a small increment of calf circumference during the first, second, and third hour of sitting when compared with regular chairs. The authors thought that during sitting on an active seat the blood circulated during the sitting time and the blood pooling reduced.

Short exercises. The systematic review of occupational interventions for the prevention of back pain revealed that only exercises with or without education that can be applied in a workplace have the potential to prevent lower back pain.

Moreover, there are no specific exercises that would be most effective during breaks at work in preventing lower back pain, but short-duration, 5-10 minutes exercises are beneficial.

A scientific study showed that active rest in the workplace improves personal relationships, mental health, and physical activity among workers.

Micro-breaks result in decreased musculoskeletal pain, and improvement in work quality and productivity. And mostly it should last for 2-3 minutes of light-intensity activity every 30 minutes of sedentary work.

Important to mention that active micro-break should be more stimulating and dynamic than standing up or stretching.

Short breaks with active rest during prolonged sitting positions at work could reduce lower back pain because during active rest muscles are activated, and the static position is changed.

Sit-to-stand desks. There were no findings that sit-to-stand desks can improve physical activity or minimize musculoskeletal discomfort.

There are a lot of ways to manage the danger of sitting: to have moderate physical activity after work and less television viewing. During working hours at the office, we can use dynamic chairs which increase spine health and reduce musculoskeletal discomfort, also, do short exercises, and micro-breaks.


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