Why Sitting All The Time Is Harmful To The Body
Before the reality of a global pandemic dominated our lives, most of us were juggling schedules that allowed us to be reasonably active; a regimen we never imagined would be challenged or indefinitely halted.
Living in New York City trained my ability to turn the concrete jungle into my very own workout space, which is the habitual tendency that’s unavoidable, when you surrender to the mainstays of city living, with daily commutes that force you up and down those damn stairs, leading in and out of train stations — and the guarantee that you will have to stand for the duration of trips.
Walking fast was also practiced to the level of expertise to the infuriation of visiting relatives and friends from slower placed regions who could’t keep up, and would relentlessly beg me to slow down.
They would always remark about how fit I looked with my toned legs, enviable calves and the gliding motion that showed off passionate familiarity with my adopted home city.
Walking everywhere for blocks and blocks with the contest of seeing how long it takes to reach your Upper East Side apartment from your corporate office in Midtown was the irresistible treat that added to my stealth aerobics.
Fast forward to the present and I’ve become dangerously chained to the trusted couch that hosts my itinerary for the day, along with streaming episodes in the evenings.
Once the nationwide shutdown hit with foreboding intensity and uneasy finality, it was quite the struggle adjusting to a life-altering sentence of being homebound with no assurances of a probable deadline.
Some of us were caught off guard in more ways than one, with the shock of remaining in unideal environments that drastically limit much-needed space for extended moments of privacy and mobility that’s not regulated to the common area.
Recalling the old days of being a proudly tormented New Yorker, I’m definitely accustomed to the economical aspects of making a tiny bedroom and an even tighter studio apartment work for the betterment of my unyielding hustle outside those doors.
The grand pay off was knowing that I would leave for the gym in the morning around 6:15 am and not return until 6:30 pm, or much later, depending on if stressful shifts demanded trips to the strip where “happy hour” at the Beer Bar ends with a cab ride home — just before midnight.
It’s astounding how those heady times of functioning at a high speed of existence with intermingling of both personal and professional seems so luxurious compared to the crippling predictability that’s doing more damage than we realize — both mentally and physically.
Now, more than ever, I’m forced to pay close attention to my movements, outside of the brisk walks to the gym, six days a week, for mandatory workouts on the treadmill.
When the weather was less hostile and pleasantly warm, my preference was to connect with nature while staying fit, plus, we had no choice because of the complete shut down of businesses.
After breakfast, I assemble on the couch with my MacBook and other essentials, and prior to my recent digging on the health hazards involved with sitting still for too long, my deep involvement in writing, searching for jobs, and adding to my growing pile of short stories, etc., kept my body unhealthily pinned to the leather surface.
As they say, the only way to know that shit is going left is when your body literally screams for attention.
It started with the painful peeking of veins on my right ankle. Then I noticed stomach bloating, which was the warning sign that my daily intake of water and long periods of sitting in one place with a bad posture was catching up to me.
There have also been some digestive issues, muscle spasms and a general sense of disconnect between the physical and mental, that comes to a head while I’m trying and failing to defeat unbearable insomnia, that even the trusted CBD gummies are no longer able to conquer.
Googling my symptoms didn’t take long to yield the expansive answers that validated my suspicions about the physical toll of not moving around enough, especially during daytime.
There are a myriad of health issues that simmer before the boiling point, if you’re stuck in the same position for hours on end, with only bathroom breaks and retrieving food to briefly break the cycle.
Based on what has been gathered, you can suffer greatly from adopting a sedentary lifestyle, which is bad news for those of us who have inadvertently signed up for the exact opposite of what we subscribed to, back when we had primary control of our schedules.
Here’s the list of some of the ailments that can afflict our bodies over time, and promise long-term damage, if we unknowingly sit through the hours of day and night.
Weakening of the leg and gluteal muscles.
Deficient digestive system that forces the body to retain fats and sugars, and leads to persistent bloating and constipation.
Premature degeneration of the spine, due to poor sitting posture. Development of certain types of cancer; colon, uterine and lung.
Prolonged inactivity raises the risk of heart disease, and there’s an increased chance of varicose veins, since sitting for a long stretches of time causes blood to pool in your legs.
Deep vein thrombosis is another serious and potentially deadly consequence of being still for too long, because this condition can cause the silent killer of blood clots that manifest in the veins of your legs.
None of that sounds good!
Luckily, there are inventive ways to prevent the likelihood of health problems down the road, during this season of quarantining that regulates most of us to modest surroundings that don’t come with roomy features.
For me, the crux of the issue has been the correlation between my mood swings and how it affects the way I mistreat my body.
Hitting the treadmill six days a week for an hour isn’t nearly enough activity to compensate for hours and hours of inactivity, as the glorified couch potato, who thinks pounding the keyboard with gulps of lime-infused water is good enough.
COVD-19 is the deadly virus that’s mutating at a rapid rate, and while I do all I can to follow CDC guidelines to stay alive, there’s also the irony of shortening my lifespan, while navigating the trials and tribulations of spending every waking moment in a shared space that’s not nearly big enough for the bodies at risk.
Instead of blaming my woes on circumstances beyond my reach, I’ve had to go back to the basics of morning meditation for the centering of my spirit. I conclude with a Buddhist chant that serves as ammunition against mental disruptiveness that never fails to show up.
And then it’s about the commitment to hourly breaks for body stretches and quickie sessions of pilates that occupy 15 minutes or longer if you can spare it.
You can walk around while talking on the phone or choose to tackle minor chores like washing dishes, tidying up, cleaning the bathroom, hand washing clothing, etc.
You can also walk up and down the staircase in your home or apartment complex. Maybe try jogging around the interior space you have available, to at least get the blood flowing.
Basically whatever keeps you on your feet for periods of time is the best defense against the problematic alternative. Believe it or not, even TikTok can replenish the body with dancing moves that can improve your mood.
It’s mentally draining to be regulated to the exact same place, doing similar things, day in, day out, and as someone who suffered from depression prior to the arrival of a global pandemic, my emotional state has been the additional hardship that has led to major setbacks.
The only way out is to utilize every resource at your disposal, including YouTube videos with instructors who can guide your initiation into the luxury of tailored workouts at home.
There are also apps and websites that assist with mind stimulation and offer helpful steps for that much-needed de-stressor in the middle of the afternoon or late evening.
Body and soul need to be in sync, especially while we deal with a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe. We can’t afford to fall apart, just as we begin the daunting task of making up for lost time, once everything opens up again.
Regardless of home banishment — the mantra should always be: