Does Constant Sitting Affect Your Metabolism?

Humans have incorporated the act of sitting for thousands of years. However, there are essential differences in the ways humans spent time in inactivity back then compared to modern-day society.

Even though the amount of sedentary time our ancestors experienced daily may have been similar to what we experience today, they likely passed the time in more dynamic non-ambulatory positions, such as squatting and kneeling. These postures require the engagement of muscles. Comparatively, sitting in a chair for an eight-hour workday is far less active, per Healthcare.

Some historians believe that the earliest version of the chair came into existence in Scotland around 3,200 B.C. Archeologists uncovered homes located in the Scottish village of Skara Brae that suggested the inhabitants were sleeping in beds, eating at tables, and sitting in early forms of seating, notes Design Institute of San Diego.

As time progressed and humans began living more interior lifestyles amidst technological advances, seating evolved from simple stools and benches to more structured chairs with backs and four legs, per The Denver Post.

In the meantime, modern-day society has become overly sedentary to the point where it is becoming dangerous. This is evidenced in studies consistently showing that prolonged sitting can contribute to serious health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, according to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is how prolonged sitting impacts your metabolism

The term metabolism is of Greek origin, derived from the word metabolē, meaning "change," per Federation of European Biochemical Societies. This makes sense, since metabolism refers to the complex chemical reactions in your body that occur as food is converted into energy.

Though you need to rest every night, your metabolism never sleeps, constantly providing your body energy for vital processes such as breathing, blood circulation, digestion, cell repair, hormone balance, and body temperature regulation, per Cleveland Clinic

Experts believe that prolonged sitting slows down your metabolism, which can hinder your body's ability to manage blood pressure and blood sugar, according to the U.K.'s National Health Service. It also puts you at increased risk of developing heart disease and cancer, per Mayo Clinic.

To reduce these and other health risks, experts suggest simple hacks to get you moving, such as making sure you take breaks from sitting every half hour, even if this means walking around while on the phone. Also, rather than sitting in a conference room, try walking with colleagues as you conduct meetings. If you must work at a desk all day, experts suggest trying a standing desk, and also suggest setting up a treadmill beneath your workspace so you can schedule time to be in motion.

Making these and other simple adjustments that allow you to incorporate more physical activity throughout your day can have a big impact on calorie burning, maintaining muscle tone, and supporting your mental well-being, per Mayo Clinic.