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Ugly Signs You're Sitting Down Way Too Much, Say Experts

Surprising ways your body is telling you that your lifestyle is too sedentary.

Chances are you know that leading a sedentary lifestyle isn't exactly great for your body. According to Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., a sports medicine expert at the Mayo Clinic, simply taking a break from sitting "every 30 minutes" or standing up while chatting on the phone will go a long way when it comes to your overall health.

But if you're experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms of too much sitting, you'd be wise to do even more to counteract the negative effects. After all, according to a massive study released in 2016, just an hour to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise—which includes walking—can help your body bounce back and counteract the negative effects associated with sitting too much, which include a greater risk of conditions such as heart disease and even early death. So read on, and if any of these sound familiar, make sure you're aware of The Real Number of Steps You Should Walk Every Day, According to Health Experts.

You're spacing out more.

Woman sitting and drinking

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and published in the International Journal of Obesity, there's a grim side effect to sitting on the couch for long periods that you should be aware of: You'll be hurting your attention span and making yourself much more vulnerable to distraction.

"We used EEG recordings to measure electrical potentials that are generated in the brain while participants engaged in tasks that challenged them to focus, ignore distractions and flexibly switch attention between tasks," observed Dominika Pindus, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois, who oversaw the study. "Our key finding was that people who spent more time in prolonged sedentary bouts were more easily distracted."

You're feeling more depressed.


Everyone knows that leading a sedentary lifestyle won't do your body any favors. Forgoing your daily run or HIIT session, not treating yourself to long and healthy walks, or simply not moving around in any meaningful way are just some of the shortest and surest paths to a number of ailments, including the development of heart disease and diabetes, and—per recent research published in the Journal of Sports Sciences—poor mental health that could spiral into depression. And if this sounds familiar, make sure you're also aware of the Simple Eating Tricks You Can Do to Feel Better, According to Experts.

You're sitting with rounded shoulders

Man using smartphone sitting hunched down having scoliosis in the office of therapist at the clinic

"We were meant to move, and move frequently," says Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN, an exercise physiologist and author of The Micro-Workout Plan: Get the Body You Want without the Gym in 15 Minutes or Less a Day. "So many things in life are pulling us forward: Gravity, the fact we generally work on our 'mirror muscles' (the ones in front that we can see) and, yes, sitting for extended periods of time."

According to Holland, these are just some of the physical manifestations that you're sitting way too much:

Rounded shoulders

Lower back pain

Tight hip flexors

Neck pain

Piriformis pain

You're unable to conceive.

doctor form

Both men and women can experience the negative impact of sitting too much and the ability to conceive children. In the case of men, a 2019 study published in the journal Folia Histochemica et Cytobiologica found that men who sat all day in sedentary professions experienced double the risk of high levels of sperm DNA damage.

You've developed blood clots in your legs.

working from home

"Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot that forms in your leg, often because you sit still for too long," writes Tyler Wheeler, M.D. "It can be serious if the clot breaks free and lodges in your lung. You might notice swelling and pain, but some people have no symptoms. That's why it's a good idea to break up long sitting sessions."

Your sleep is terrible.

Woman having trouble sleeping

According to a study of middle-aged and older adults published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, sitting too much every day is linked to at least six "sleep-problem indicators," which include snoring, long sleep, gasping, breathing stops, and "insufficient and restless sleep." The researchers also note that living a sedentary lifestyle with poor sleep habits creates a vicious cycle. "It should be acknowledged that someone who is awake for longer (shorter sleep time) is likely to have higher awake sedentary time just by virtue of being awake for longer," the study says. If your problem is getting to sleep in the first place, consider trying The Viral Trick for "Falling Asleep in 5 Minutes" That Many People Swear By.

Your digestive system is hurting.

woman bloated stomach

Fact: When you sit down, you compress your stomach and abdomen, and the result is slower digestion. Do so too much, and you're looking at issues that range from constipation to bloating. "In fact it's common for people who are in hospital to suffer with bowel problems, because they are sedentary," Clare Morrison, a GP based in the UK, explained to HuffPost.

Yes, you'll be in pain.

back pain sitting

It should go without saying, but we'll repeat it here: Your legs, glutes, lower back, shoulders, and neck are all parts of your body at risk of chronic pain from sitting too much. "Having poor posture may lead to aches and pains, but having it over the long term is when you get real damage," chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC, explained to the Cleveland Clinic. "For every inch you tilt it forward, the amount of weight it places on your spine nearly doubles." If you're ready to counteract the harmful effects of sitting, make sure you know What Walking for Just 20 Minutes Does to Your Body, According to a New Study.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more about William
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