Is Sitting The New Smoking? The Effects of Prolonged Sitting

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woman sitting too long realizing it is unhealthy

Recent studies have shown that on average Americans are spending four more hours sitting each day than before the coronavirus pandemic. Whether you’re sitting more due to working from home, or sitting because it is difficult to move around due to age, injury, or other issues, you may be at increased risk for developing vein disease. This common health condition is the underlying cause of varicose veins and spider veins. 

Sitting for long periods of time also places you at increased risk for: 

Sitting can be very hard to avoid in today’s modern society. Understanding that sitting is the new smoking may motivate you to increase your daily physical activity. For additional information on how moving around more can improve your vein health, we recommend consulting a vein specialist.

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Sitting for Long Periods of Time

Even though life can get in the way of being more active, we all know that prolonged sitting is not a healthy activity. Our bodies are meant to move around and be active, not stagnant.

is sitting the new smoking - physical inactivity infographic

Many don’t realize how harmful being sedentary can be because the damage is not always visible. The consequences of sitting for long periods are often unnoticeable and internal. In the early stages, issues like vein disease may cause little to no symptoms. However, as time goes on without treatment, symptoms can become severe and even debilitating.

Think of the outcomes of sitting similarly to how you perceive the effects of smoking cigarettes. Chronic smokers usually won’t start noticing any health effects until later on in their life. The same applies to living a sedentary lifestyle: the damage is long-term, but comes on gradually.

Effects of Prolonged Sitting

As mentioned earlier, extended periods of sitting can lead to a number of health conditions, including weight gain and varicose veins. If you put on more weight, increased pressure is being put on the veins in your legs. The added pressure, along with the heart working harder to pump blood properly against gravity, causes the veins to become more irritated, swollen, and painful. These symptoms of venous insufficiency, or vein disease, can cause some to refrain from exercising in an attempt to avoid more pain or irritation. When you combine prolonged sitting, lack of exercise, and weight gain, the risk of developing serious health conditions, like vein disease increases significantly.

How to Avoid the Effects of Prolonged Sitting

Standing is not necessarily the answer to avoiding the effects of prolonged sitting. In fact, standing the entire day can have a similar impact on your veins and overall health. 

Instead of staying in any one place for long periods of time, we recommend moving around frequently throughout the day. It may also benefit your vein health to exercise regularly. We suggest aiming for at least 30 minutes per day, five days a week. 

Sitting for more than three hours at a time without moving should be avoided. If you work in an office, there are many ways to include more activity into the day. For example, you can set an alarm to get up and move around every hour, or decide to always get up and stretch when you’re on a phone call. You may be surprised how active you can be from the comfort of your own desk.

There are other available solutions, too. For instance, you can get an ergonomic chair or an interactive footrest, or invest in a posture-corrector that reminds you when you’re slouching or if you’ve been sitting for too long. For a more cost-friendly solution, try adding some posture-correcting exercises into your workout routine. 

If your job or other activities have you on your feet all day, we suggest exercising after work or on your days off. You can also take a walk at lunchtime or during your breaks. Even short bouts of physical activity can help promote better blood flow so that you can avoid related health issues.

Request a Consultation with USA Vein Clinics

Sitting is hard to avoid. As our world becomes more focused on convenience, we spend more time than we realize on our electronic devices and become more sedentary.

It’s important to evaluate your lifestyle and speak to your doctor about how to make changes when necessary to benefit your health and overall well-being. A vein specialist can work with you to make personalized recommendations on how to improve your vein health.

Now that you have a greater awareness of long-term sitting effects, if your vein symptoms are keeping you from being more active, we want you to know that treatment may help. At USA Vein Clinics, we specialize in minimally invasive, outpatient vein treatment. All of our non-surgical procedures take less than a half-hour, depending on the number of veins receiving care. To learn more about how sitting may be impacting your vein health, contact us at 888.768.3467 or schedule a consultation online

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