How long should you sit in an office chair?

Heather Campbell
 min read

How long should you sit in an office chair and what are the health risks of sitting too long?

how long should you sit in an office chairA sedentary lifestyle is dangerous! The less active you are, the more health issues you will face.

Being physically active increases your chance of a longer, healthier life, much more so than sitting down.

An inactive lifestyle carries a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

And that’s not taking into account your anxiety and stress levels…

How long should you sit in an office chair? Introduction

Question: How long do we sit down for? Do you have any idea?

It may come as a surprise, but physical inactivity is directly responsible for over 3.5 million deaths annually worldwide, which could have been otherwise avoided.

Not convinced? Read on. It is the 3rd cause responsible for death by non-communicable illness.

It’s also responsible for 20% of breast and colon cancers, 25% of diabetes cases, and around 30% ischaemic cardiovascular disease (heart disease caused by narrowed arteries).

It is the 2nd highest reason for cancer in America after smoking.

The effects on your body due to sitting down too long

The human body is meant to stand tall, so your heart and cardiovascular system can work more effectively.

The same goes for your bowels.

In fact, it is common for people who are bedridden to have cardiovascular and bowel problems.

On the other hand, becoming physically active results in higher energy and endurance levels and keeps your bones healthy too.

Heart problems

Heart problems have often been linked to a sedentary lifestyle.

For example, if you’re spending more than 20 hours a week lounging in front of the TV, the chance of having a stroke or dying from cardiovascular disease increases by more than 50% as compared to people spending less than half of that.

Weight gain: How long should you sit in an office chair

Movement burns up calories.

If you’re sitting for most of the day, your digestion doesn’t work as efficiently as it should, and all the fats and sugars you’ve ingested are turned to fat.

Even if you exercise but still spend a considerable amount of time sitting down, you’re still increasing your chances of other diseases, such as metabolic syndrome.

Every adult needs a minimum of one hour daily of moderate-intensity activity to counteract excessive inactivity.

Are you overweight? And are you wondering which type of office chair could serve you well?

Then you should really read our page about plus-size office chairs with a high weight carrying capacity.

Stress, depression, and anxiety

We have less understanding of the link between sitting and mental health than that between sitting and physical issues.

But we know that stress, anxiety, and depression levels are higher in sedentary people.

Exercise releases several neurotransmitters that make us feel better post-exercise.

Stiffness in neck and shoulders

Too much time hunched over a keyboard will definitely lead to discomfort and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.

Read What type of chair is best for office work? in order to discover comfortable features and lovely office chair models for office workers.

Higher risk of diabetes

Research studies have shown that just by lying in bed for a week, your insulin levels will rise to unhealthy levels.

People who sit down more also have a greater danger of developing diabetes (it doubles, actually).

Weakening of the muscles in your bum

Sitting for too long is bad news for your leg muscles, and it’s no better for your glutes.

You may not think it’s a big deal, but these are big muscles essential for walking and stability.

If these muscles are weakened, you’re more likely to fall and injure yourself.

And if you start exercising, then you’re going to hurt yourself by straining.

Increased cancer risk

More bad news…

Too much sitting down increases your chances of developing cancer, including uterine, lung, and colon cancers.

Although the link isn’t fully understood, it’s definitely there.

Spider veins: How long should you sit in an office chair?

Sitting for long periods slows down your circulation, which can lead to spider veins or the more significant variation known as varicose veins.

Varicose veins aren’t usually dangerous, but in rare cases, they can lead to an embolism, and that is something you certainly don’t want.

Reduced performance of back and hip muscles

Just like your legs and glutes, your hips and back won’t be happy through extended sitting.

Remaining seated makes your hip flexor muscles shorten, leading to joint problems.

The same goes for your back, especially if you have a bad posture or don’t use the right chair and/or workstation.

Poor posture can also cause spine problems, such as disc compression.

And this leads to early degeneration, and boy, is that painful!

Read our related article What is the proper way to sit in an office chair? and discover various tips for adopting a good sitting posture.

Blood clots in your legs

Sitting for too long, such as a long plane or car trip, can trigger deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

A DVT is a blood clot that forms in the veins of your leg, and we cannot stress its severity too much.

If it breaks and travels around your body, it can cut off the blood flow to your lungs and trigger a pulmonary embolism, and this may be fatal.

How long should you sit in an office chair? Conclusion

Lying or sitting down for too long increases the risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

It can also be detrimental to your mental health.

It doesn’t have to be as challenging as you think. There are many ways to include physical activity in your day.

Moving away from your desk every 30 to 40 minutes to make a coffee or go to the bathroom will make a difference.

Start off with that, and gradually increase your physical activity. You’ll be grateful you did.

About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More