Everyone knows by now that sitting is the latest seemingly benign thing that will ultimately kill you. Add it to the list along with butter-flavored popcorn and grilled meats. But this infographic from the Washington Post actually does a good job of explaining exactly why sitting for prolonged periods of time is so bad for you. Let’s take a look.
On a macro level, sitting for prolonged periods of time is extremely bad for your heart. According to the Post graphic, muscles burn less fat and your blood flows more slowly when you’re sedentary.
This allows fatty acids to clog the heart more easily, and nobody wants a clogged heart. Leading a sedentary lifestyle has been connected to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and a greater likelihood for heart disease.
Sitting also might be limiting your brainpower. Since moving muscles need fresh blood and oxygen to work, they also stimulate the brain. But when you sit for eight hours a day, brain function slows—along with everything else that’s not moving.
Another fun side effect of too much sitting: You’ll never get that six-pack of abs you crave. When you’re moving around, or even just sitting up straight, your core muscles are engaged to keep you upright. When you’re slumped over in a desk chair, however, they’re doing nothing, and this lack of use can contribute to a flabby middle (and a bad back).
These fun side effects, along with a host of others, are enough to make anyone buy a standing desk. But what can you do in the meantime? Well, it’s actually not too difficult to counteract these scary symptoms. An Australian study suggests that taking a short break once an hour to stand up and move around can cure what ails you.
It’s also crucial to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. You can break it up into 10-minute chunks during your workday even: Running up and down the stairs a few times or taking a nice walk during your lunch hour are both good options.
And if you do have to spend most of your day at your desk, listen to your mother and sit up straight.