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Staying Fit And Healthy When You Sit At A Desk All Day

The American Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, an international medical authority journal, once published that the incidence of arthritis in fitness runners is 3.5% while that of sedentary people is 10.2%! Are you surprised to see this data? But it’s nearly impossible to avoid sitting all day for many of us, especially the students, the office workers or the stay-at-home parents. And the harm of sitting all day is not only for the knees mentioned above, but also for our whole body from head to toe.

Don’t worry too much in that things don’t turn too bad. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to mitigate these risks and stay fit and healthy while sitting at a desk all day. In this article, we will explore practical tips and exercises that can help you maintain a healthy body and mind despite a sedentary work environment. We will also discuss the importance of ergonomics and how it can improve your overall comfort and productivity while sitting all day at a desk. So, whether you’re an office worker, student or simply someone who spends a lot of time sitting down, this article is for you.

Perhaps some people may say, “If I lie on the bed or just relax while watching TV or looking through social media, is it not considered as “sedentary”?” This idea is totally wrong! According to the WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior, any behavior that results in a metabolic equivalent of less than 1.5 Mets while awake is considered sedentary! Therefore, even if you are lying down, your body is still in a state of rest and not actively engaging in physical activity.

are you sitting all day

Metabolic Equivalent (MET) is a measure used to represent the intensity of physical activity. It is calculated by dividing the metabolic rate during exercise by the metabolic rate at rest. 1 MET is equivalent to the energy expenditure while sitting or lying down, while standing and performing light activities such as talking on the phone, using a computer or writing can be around 1.5 METs. This means that simply sitting and looking at a computer screen is considered sedentary behavior, as is lying down and scrolling through your phone. Even if you stand up while working to protect your back, it still falls under the category of prolonged sitting.

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2. How can sitting all day damage your health?

Sitting for long periods has become a “gentle chronic killer” for many people, slowly eroding human health without people even realizing it. The World Health Organization has already listed “sedentary” as one of the top ten killers and diseases. And then we will show you specific cases related to the damages brought by sitting all day in this part.

Aging and dementia

Sitting for an hour with poor blood circulation in the lower extremities can lead to a decrease in brain blood supply, oxygen deficiency, dizziness, low mood, decreased cognitive function and even become an important factor in aging and dementia.

Cardiac dysfunction

Sitting all day can slow down blood circulation, leading to cardiac dysfunction and myocardial atrophy. For middle-aged and elderly individuals with conditions such as arteriosclerosis, sitting all day and slow blood circulation can also trigger myocardial infarction and cerebral thrombosis.


Sitting all day reduces fat burning, increases cholesterol levels and may cause blockages in the heart and blood vessels. It increases the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Sitting all day can also lead to the accumulation of calcium deposits in the arteries, causing arteriosclerosis. Every additional hour of sitting daily increases the risk of coronary artery sclerosis by 12%. Additionally, prolonged sitting reduces muscle contractions in the legs, slows down blood flow in the lower extremities and increases the incidence of blood clots. People who sit in the same posture for more than three hours a day have a twofold increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis in the lower extremities. Those officers who sit all day even for more than 12 hours continuously increases the risk of pulmonary embolism, especially in middle-aged and elderly individuals with high blood lipid levels and high blood viscosity. Therefore, long periods of sedentary behavior are potential dangerous factors.

Dizziness and blurred vision

Slowed blood circulation due to prolonged sitting can also lead to insufficient blood supply to the brain, causing mental fatigue and physical exhaustion, as well as symptoms such as dizziness and blurred vision.

Neck, shoulder, back and waist pain

Sitting all day in a fixed posture can not only impair local blood circulation but also cause stiffness, soreness and pain in the neck, shoulders, back or even waist, leading to headaches and cervical spondylosis.

Impact on cardiovascular health

Sitting all day with limited physical activity can lead to inadequate exercise for the lungs, resulting in reduced blood supply to the heart and lungs. Common age-related lung diseases such as emphysema and infections are often associated with decreased lung function.


When cells are idle and muscles are not being used, the pancreas responds slowly, leading to an increase in insulin production and ultimately resulting in diabetes. Long-term sitting increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 112%.

Loss of appetite

Sitting all day can slow down gastrointestinal motility and reduce secretion of digestive enzymes, leading to symptoms such as loss of appetite, abdominal bloating, constipation and indigestion, exacerbating digestive system issues.

Colon Cancer

Sitting for long periods weakens the contractions of the intestinal and stomach muscles, allowing harmful substances to accumulate in the colon, stimulating intestinal mucosa. Additionally, poor blood circulation in the abdominal, pelvic and lumbar regions can weaken the immune barrier function of the intestines, further increasing the risk of colon cancer. Sitting all day has also been associated with an increased risk of hemorrhoids or “piles”.

Pulmonary embolism

A recent study conducted by the American Cancer Society over a 14-year period involving 120,000 participants revealed that prolonged sitting for more than six hours daily may increase the risk of premature death, with women being at a higher risk. In addition, Australian researchers discovered that individuals who spend more than four hours per day watching television while sitting have an 80% greater likelihood of dying from cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases and a 46% higher risk of death from other causes compared to those who sit for less than two hours. These findings emphasize the importance of incorporating physical activity into daily routines and reducing sedentary behavior to improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

3. How to stay fit when you sit all day?

According to a study published in the Lancet sub-journal EClinical Medicine, sitting for more than six hours a day is associated with an increased risk of 12 common chronic diseases. However, the incidence of common chronic diseases caused by sitting all day can be reduced if prolonged sitting is replaced by different intensities of physical activity. And the greater the intensity of physical activity, the more types of chronic diseases can be prevented. Sitting all day at a desk can’t be avoided, but we can change our daily habits to reduce its damages as much as possible. Here are some suggestions for you:

Take breaks to walk

Taking regular breaks to walk around can help increase your physical activity levels. You can take a short walk during your lunch break or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to stand up and stretch every hour.

Keep good sitting posture

Sitting with poor posture can lead to back pain, neck pain and other health problems. Make sure your chair supports your back and that your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid slouching if you have to sit all day.

Adjust computer screen and monitor

Positioning your computer screen at eye level can help reduce strain on your neck and eyes. You can use a standing desk or adjust the height of your monitor to achieve this.

Stretch your body

Stretching regularly can help improve circulation, reduce stiffness and prevent injuries. Try doing some simple stretches such as shoulder rolls, neck stretches and hip flexor stretches throughout the day.

Try stairs instead of elevators

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to add some physical activity to your daily routine, which can decrease the bad effects brought by sitting all day. It can also help improve cardiovascular health and strengthen leg muscles.

Exercise after working

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help counteract the negative effects of sitting all day. Consider going for a run, hitting the gym or taking a yoga class after work.

Eat healthy and nutritious food

Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats can help support overall health and well-being. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine. So if there is any unhealthy snacks in your desk, clear them out!

Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated is important for maintaining good health, especially when you have to sit all day. Drinking more water can help reduce your appetite and reduce your fat intake. But you may forget to drink water most of time. In this way, you can get a water bottle near you to remind you take water. BulkFlask is a great choice for you in that you can get a high-performance water bottle of any size you need. Also, refilling your drink bottle is a good way to stretch and move your body !

Sitting all day at a desk is too common in our daily life that most of us ignore its hidden bad effects. If your sitting all day can’t be avoided, try changing your lifestyle from daily habits and start to protect your health. 

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