Sitting: An occupational hazard


Many people in Fairmont, West Virginia, may associate desk jobs with repetitive motion disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome. However, scientists are discovering there are many other serious health risks that attend sitting in front of a computer for several hours each day at work.


Sitting too much may be associated with too little exercise or too much snacking, and it is true that a sedentary lifestyle is directly related to obesity, which puts a person at high risk for type 2 diabetes. However, according to the Washington Post, the risk of developing diabetes for people who sit several hours each day is also associated with insulin resistance. The pancreas produces insulin, but when the muscles are not active, they do not respond to it, so the pancreas continues to produce more. Even those who exercise every day are still at risk if they also sit for long periods of time.

Weak muscles

Idle muscles have other problems, too. Strong core muscles in the abdomen and back prevent back injuries, but sitting allows these to become ineffective. In addition, when they are not moved and stretched frequently, muscles shorten and tighten into positions that are not healthy, pulling a person’s posture out of alignment. According to Spine Health, any activity that requires a person to stay in one position for more than 20 minutes causes stress to soft tissues, including ligaments and tendons as well as muscles.

Kidney disease

The National Kidney Foundation reports that anyone who sits for long periods each day is more likely to develop chronic kidney disease, although women face a higher risk than men. Affecting 26 million Americans, kidney disease is among the top chronic diseases. Although researchers have not pinpointed the reason that sitting is so bad for the kidneys, results indicate that women who sit more than eight hours a day have a 30 percent higher chance of developing kidney disease than those who sit fewer than three hours per day. Half an hour of exercise is shown to reduce the risk for men, but it did not positively affect women’s risk factors.


A study reported by WebMD shows that prolonged sitting leads to a 24 percent higher chance of developing colon cancer. Not only that, the risk of endometrial cancer is 32 percent higher for women who sit all day.

Anyone in West Virginia who works at a sedentary job, whether behind a desk or behind the wheel of a vehicle, is at risk for these and other health problems. Breaking the pattern, or at least reducing some of the risk, may be as simple as standing or stretching for short periods throughout the day, as some of these studies seem to indicate.

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