What Happens When You Sit at a Desk All Day?

If you’re one of the millions of people with an office desk job and have to spend most of your time sitting at your office, then this article is for you. You must have already heard or seen that spending more than eight hours sitting and moving very little doesn’t exactly do wonders for your overall health. Sitting can have short and long-term effects on your physical and mental health. 

Generally, sitting at a desk all day causes back and neck pain, Besides that, it might lead to obesity if you are leading a sedentary lifestyle and just sitting all day at your desk. There are also some evidences that suggests that it can harm the mental wellbeing of a person as well.

Read on to learn how damaging it can be to sit all day and what should do to avoid physical and mental issues that are formed as a side effect of sitting for long hours at your workplace or office.

Physical Health Issues
1. It increases your weight
2. It Weakens your back and legs muscles.
3. It decreases blood flow
4. Increases the Risk of Heart Disease
5. Increases the Diabetes Risk
6. Increases your Alzheimer’s risk
7. Increases the lower back pain
8. Other Physical Health issues

Physical Health Issues

Increases Weight

We all hate weight gain. Odds are in a certain period of our life; we started gaining weight, and we can’t get the chance to lose that extra weight. Sitting on a chair all day long is one of the reasons for your weight gain. When you do some physical work or exercise, your muscles release molecules like lipoprotein lipase, which process the fats and sugars of your body.

When you spend a long hour sitting, the release of these molecules become less, and you start gaining weight. One study found, unsurprisingly, that men who spent more time sitting than usual, gained more weight around the middle, which is the most dangerous place to store fat and really hard to burn out those fats.

It Weakens your back and legs muscles.

When you are sitting all day, you are not using the back and legs muscles of your body. As you are not using your muscles for a longer period, your muscles will become fatigued. Due to the fatigueness of your muscles, they become weak, and you start to feel pain in those muscles. Without strong back and leg muscles to stabilize you, your body is at high risk of injury.

Decrease in Blood Flow

Your blood flow starts to decrease, especially to the lower part of your body. According to a 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal, sitting for long periods of time can cause sluggish blood flow to your body. This sluggish blood flow can cause blood clots to form; these blood clots can cause pulmonary embolism when they make their way to our lungs.

Increases the Risk of Heart Disease

Sitting for a long period can hurt your heart in the long run, as it can lead you towards potential cardiovascular diseases. One recent study showed that men who spent more than 5 hours per day sitting or watching television had over 60 percent higher risk of dying from heart or cardiovascular disease than men who lead an active life and sit for fewer hours.

Increases the Diabetes Risk

People who sit for a long hour mostly lead a sedentary lifestyle; thus, they tend to become obese, and this increases their chances of being diabetic. If you are one of those people who sit for long hours, your chances of becoming a diabetic are generally Higher.

According to a recent study, people who spend more time sitting on a chair have a 112 percent increased risk of getting diabetes. In another study, it is also shown that people who sit for long hours and live a sedentary life are getting more insulin resistance with time, which leads to Type 2 Diabetes.

Increases your Alzheimer’s risk

As I have mentioned earlier, sitting all day can reduce blood flow in your body, and it affects your brain as well. Your brain is not actually immune to this change. With reduced blood flow, your brain also receives less blood flow and oxygen when sitting for a longer period of time on your chair, working at your workplace.

Due to less supply of oxygen and blood in your brain, the neurons start to get affected (according to a study published in PLOS One in 2018). This hampers the regular activity of your brain and affects your memory; as a result, this increases your chances for Alzheimer’s Disease. That is why medical study shows that 13 percent of Alzheimer’s cases are linked directly to sedentary lifestyles.

Increases the lower back pain

As we have discussed above, sitting all day for a long period of time can make your muscles fatigue. This fatigue of muscles is also responsible for lower back pain. It makes the postural muscles weaker.

This symptom can lead to inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. This inflammation causes pain to the entire back, down the legs, or out from the hips. All these issues increase the intensity of your lower back pain.

Other Physical Health issues

Decreases Metabolism:

Keeping your metabolism high is crucial. After just hours of prolonged sitting, makes your muscle inactive, and these muscles could not properly respond to insulin, which decreases metabolism. Another common issue of slowing down your metabolism is your eating habit. You might eat too many calories, and when you sit all day long, there is a very little chance you burned those extra calories.

Compressed abdomen leading to digestive issues:

When you remain seated for hours, your abdomen gets compressed. Because of this reason, you’re likely to experience digestive issues like bloating and gas, cramps, heartburn, and discomfort after eating.

Compromised posture:  

Sitting for long hours can cause your pelvis to rotate backward and puts pressure on your lumbar discs. To compensate for this weight-transfer, this position forces the head forward and causes your shoulders to curve.

Mental Health Issues

Sitting all day does not only affect you physically, but it can also lead to serious mental issues as well. Some of the mental health issues that are directly linked with sitting all day and living a sedentary lifestyle are as follows:

Anxiety 

A recent study in 2019 shows that people who have long hours of desk jobs are more prone to develop anxiety as a side effect of sitting for long hours. This anxiety will reduce your ability to concentrate or focus and might also develop a bad headache as well.

Depression:

Depression is a long term effect of severe stress and anxiety. As we mentioned earlier, people with long term sitting jobs tend to suffer more from anxiety. They have greater chances of developing depression over time. That means if you have to sit long hours and you continue this in the long run. You have increased chances to suffer from depression unless you take some precautions.

Loneliness:

People who spend over 8 hours sitting and working in their workplace often feel lonely due to fewer chances of social interaction. Many people have to travel 2-3 hours every day, and if they spend all their day working, traveling, and sitting in front of their desks, they obviously don’t get enough social interaction with their friends and family. This loneliness is directly linked with long hour sitting desk jobs.

Reduced social skills:

People who have long hour sitting jobs spend less time with their friends and family. In the long run, these people’s social skills are compromised. If you are one of those people who spend all day sitting in front of your desk in the office, then you are more likely to become an introvert in the long run, and your social skills may also reduce with time.

Suggestions from experts:

Experts say people who sit for long hours have a 147 percent higher risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. To reduce these issues, you can do the following:

  • Every 30 minutes, take a break from sitting.
  • Try to do some easy exercise during that 30 minutes break.
  • If you work at a desk, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
  • Walk with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room.
  • To get the best out while you are sitting all day and working. Get an ergonomic office chair. That can help you with a long hour of sitting.

Final Thoughts and Opinions:

It is not possible for most of us to just give up our long hour sitting job and lead a free and totally active life entirely. If you are one of us, you can definitely minimize the health issues by following the expert advice I have collected through my research.

Other than that I will also recommend you to make at least 20-30 minute for exercising and if possible maybe you should also consider joining a gym, my final piece of advice is to get a good Ergonomic Office chair which will improve your sitting experience and will reduce effects of many of the health risks that I have mentioned. 

Thank you for reading! Before you go, take a minute out and check out my top recommendations for Ergonomic Office Chairs

Asif Iqbal

Hi, I’m the co-owner of officechairtrends.com. I had spend hundreds of hours researching on Office Chairs. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned about office chairs.