The presence of various side-effects of prolonged sitting and prolonged standing gives rise to debates whether or not the former is better than the latter and vice versa. Well, we have seen numerous researches on the bad effects of both, but what is really more preferred? Before deciding whether to sit or stand longer during work, here are some of the discussion on the effects of sitting and standing for prolonged periods:
The Truth about Prolonged Sitting
Sitting is our way of relaxing our tired legs and feet, but this same relaxing position can be the culprit for many conditions when employed for prolonged periods of time. Prolonged sitting can lead to various conditions including:
- Deep vein thrombosis
Prolonged sitting actually impedes the normal venous return from the legs to the heart making it possible for blood clots to form on the legs while sitting for longer periods of time. As the blood flow becomes sluggish, the blood clots may form leading to DVT. DVT is a life-threatening condition because it can actually cause heart attacks, pulmonary embolism and even stroke when the blood clots lodge in the arteries of major organs. In fact, the risks for developing stroke and heart attack increases by 40% among those who sit more than 4 hours a day according to one study.
- Varicose veins and spider veins
The sluggish blood flow in the legs will also cause the congestion in the veins leading to varicosities and spider veins.
Reduced activity from prolonged sitting can actually lead to reduction in the intestinal motility causing constipation.
Increase pressure in the veins in the anal area from the congested veins is another effect of prolonged sitting.
- Urination problems
When we don’t move regularly, the urine becomes static in the urinary bladder leading to increased risk for urinary tract infections and formation of kidney stones.
Aside from these, there is also an increased incidence of musculoskeletal injuries such as neck strain and back pain when sitting for prolonged periods. All of these effects of prolonged sitting root from the impaired circulation of blood and mobility of a person. In this line, moving and staying out of the chair often can help prevent these effects.
The Truth about Prolonged Standing
Prolonged standing or standing for over 8 hours in a day can also lead to same effects as prolonged sitting. In fact, the mechanism of the complications of prolonged standing is the same with that of sitting for longer periods of time: problems in circulation. Research have seen increased incidences of venous insufficiency, musculoskeletal injury, and urinary problems as well as increased risk for abortions and pre-term birth among those who stand for prolonged periods of time.
Various proponents have indicated that standing for prolonged periods is less dangerous than sitting for prolonged periods due to the fact that you readily walk and move around when you are standing rather than sitting. However, based on facts, these two conditions are not beneficial for anyone so remedies and preventive measures need to be considered.
Consider taking a break from work to allow the body to recuperate from sitting and standing for prolonged periods. When sitting, try to stand every hour and move around. In the same line, when you stand during work, take a break and walk around the office and take a few minutes to sit to relax the legs and back muscles. Moreover, consider hitting the gym regularly for exercise and get ergonomic chairs and desks for your office to allow better body mechanics at work.
As they say, more of something is not always good. Prolonged sitting and prolonged standing are both detrimental routines so plan on how to avoid the effects through proper exercise, mobility and body mechanics.