Long Sitting Hours Carry Serious Health Risk


Most of us are aware that a sedentary and inactive lifestyle can lead to health complications, including obesity and heart problems, but what many do not realize is that there is another serious risk associated with spending too much time simply sitting down.

A US study published this month in the British Medical Journal found that women who sat for lengthy periods every day had double and sometimes triple the risk of a dangerous blood clot. Whilst the women in this study had sat for more than 41 hours per week (on top of their working hours) the research indicates that a sedentary and inactive lifestyle increases the risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

This is serious stuff, since around 25,000 Britons die each year as a result of DVT, and whilst it is more common in the over 60s, more young people are increasingly being diagnosed due to a sedentary lifestyle brought about by technology and the propensity to work –and play - whilst seated.

Deep vein thrombosis is caused when the wall of a blood vessel is damaged (through injury or surgery) or if the blood clots more easily than usual (due to genetics or as a result of medications). But it can also be triggered when the blood flow slows down considerably, such as when we are immobile for long periods of time.

The greatest risk factor for DVT is surgery. Other more publicized risks are those of long haul air travel and the Pill. Many do not realize that just sitting down for too long, without regular breaks, can be just as detrimental to our health.

It's estimated that the average person in Britain spends 12 hours per day sitting down and looking at screens, thus significantly increasing their chances of a clot. Yet many will not be aware of the existence of a clot, since as many as 80% of DVT related clots are asymptomatic and thus can go undetected.

DVT can also be hereditary. Event manager, Manuela Wedam from Austria was 35 when she was diagnosed with DVT. After a long haul flight to South Africa, she experienced cramp-like feelings in the calf that would not go away. Because she is neither overweight, a smoker nor in any of the categories considered 'high risk', doctors did genetic tests and found out that it was hereditary. Treatment meant taking heparin shots and tablets for three months until the thrombus disappeared, and she continues to have to administer shots before every flight or long journey by car.

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