7 Bad Sitting Habits That Affect Your Body Long-Term
We sit for long periods of time every single day whether that’s relaxing at home or working at the office. There’s more to sitting than just plopping down in a chair, though. Have you realized how many bad sitting habits you have on a daily basis? It may not seem like such a big deal but bad sitting habits can have long-term negative effects on your physical and mental health.
Possible health risks from bad sitting habits include chronic lower back pain, poor respiratory function, increased blood pressure from bad circulation elevating the risk of cardiovascular disease. They can also result in weight gain, contributing to chronic diseases like diabetes. Bad sitting habits have even been linked to sexual health, depression, and digestive issues.
This is why it’s so important to take note of how you sit on a daily basis and make simple adjustments to protect your overall health. What are the problem areas? We’re taking a look at 7 bad sitting habits that affect your body long-term so you can correct them right away!
Bad Sitting Habit #1: Slouching in Chairs
The most common and potentially obvious on our list of bad sitting habits that affect your body long-term is slouching. People slouch at their desks, at the dinner table, on benches—everywhere!
The most common negative result of slouching is lower back pain. When you slouch, your spine leaves its natural s-curve and has more pressure placed on it. This added pressure puts strain on the back muscles and compresses the sciatic nerve system.
Poor posture as a bad sitting habit also inhibits blood flow throughout the body. This restricted blood flow can result in leg and thigh pain, swelling, and increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Poor posture has also been directly associated with poor mental health, as well, making it imperative for your health as a whole.
An extreme example of the negative result of bad sitting habits like slouching is the potential to develop adult kyphosis. Adult kyphosis is most noticeable in a change in the curvature of the spine from the natural s-shape to a c-shape. This can result in impaired heart and lung functions as well as weaken lower extremities due to dramatically increased spinal pressure.
Make the conscious effort to sit up straight in your chair to make slouching a thing of the past. Chairs such as zero gravity chairs improve posture by providing lumbar support and keeping your back healthy.
Bad Sitting Habit #2: Misusing Your Office Chair Armrest
Everyone needs a little rest now and then. Using armrests makes our list of bad sitting habits that affect your body in the long-term because consistent usage can be damaging. It’s best, if possible, to have a chair without armrests to stop subconscious dependency on them.
Having armrests results in us subconsciously leaning to one side or the other. This puts the spinal column out of alignment and adds pressure to the muscles and pelvic region. Left uncorrected this leads to lower back pain experienced by upwards of 80 percent of all adults in their lifetimes.
Fixed-height armrests present another issue: they may not fit under your desk. This forces you to have your chair further back than is optimal and to lean into your desk. This puts added pressure on your core muscles and back.
The easy fix for armrests that won’t fit under your desk seems simple: lower your chair. That leads us to the next item on our list of bad sitting habits!
Bad Sitting Habit #3: Incorrect Chair Height
Sitting at your desk with your chair too low makes our list of bad sitting habits as it affects your entire body. Sitting in a chair that’s too low can cause back pain from spinal misalignment, reduced blood circulation leading to swelling, heightened blood pressure, increased pressure on internal organs, and the advanced risk of heart attack or stroke in the long-term. Serious ramifications for something so easy to fix!
This is why it’s so important to ensure your chair is at a proper height for you and optimized for your desk setup. If you’re able to work from home, High quality chairs such as a zero gravity chair paired with other ergonomic items works to fix bad sitting habits and prevent their negative effects on your body.
Bad Sitting Habit #4: Feet Not Touching the Ground While Sitting
Next on our list of bad sitting habits that affect your body long-term is your feet not touching the ground while sitting in your chair! While this may appear to be a funny image in your head, sitting without feet support can result in negative impacts to your health.
If your feet don’t touch the ground or a chair foot rest, your legs dangle. This position causes your pelvis to tilt backwards and make your core muscles work overtime to compensate. Before you think this is going to give you abs at the office, think again. Instead, it can be a cause of muscle strain and chronic lower back pain!
The ideal solution is to position your chair at a height where your feet touch the floor and your thighs are parallel to the ground. If this doesn’t work with your desk height, a small foot rest under desks is an easy solution. Without a foot rest we resort to subconscious changes in our body positioning to compensate such as hooking our feet around the base of the chair or the next bad sitting habit on our list: sitting with your legs crossed!
Bad Sitting Habit #5: Sitting With Your Legs Crossed
While we may be used to crossing our legs, it’s actually a bad sitting habit that affects your body in the long-term. When you’re sitting with your legs crossed, one side of your pelvis is pulled upward. This results in a misalignment of the spine and increases pressure on your muscles and spinal discs. Left unaddressed, sitting with your legs crossed can cause chronic lower back pain as well as muscle strain.
To fix this bad sitting habit try to keep your knees aligned while seated. After a while, this will become second nature and you’ll no longer subconsciously position yourself in a bad way. Having a foot rest or a chair that is at the correct height will make this bad sitting habit easier to break!
Bad Sitting Habit #6: Sitting Too Long
Next on our list of bad sitting habits is simply sitting too long. At a minimum, aim for 10 minutes of standing for every hour of sitting. This is especially important for those who work at a desk on a daily basis.
While you may think you’re comfortable or relaxed, sitting too long weakens the core muscles along with your glutes and leg muscles. When your core weakens, more strain is put on your back and pelvic region and can result in chronic lower back pain and sciatica symptoms. You can also experience thigh and neck pains.
To prevent pain from sitting too long, integrate simple exercises into your daily routine and ensure you have an ergonomic sitting position setup. Adding in a few simple routines to break up sitting times is an easy way to kick this bad sitting habit.
Bad Sitting Habit #7: Sitting on a Pillow or Too Soft a Chair
There does exist too much of a good thing! While you don’t want to sit on concrete, sitting on a cushy chair or using a pillow are bad sitting habits that can affect your body long-term, as well. Sitting on too soft a surface makes it more difficult to maintain good posture. Without good posture, we put more pressure on our spine, reduce blood circulation, and increase risks to our health.
Sitting on too soft a surface also makes you constantly engage your core muscles in a bad way that could cause muscle strain. Consider using a zero gravity chair in your setup to be comfortable and have the lumbar support and body positioning you need for optimal health.
You may not have realized how much bad sitting habits could affect your body long-term. Correcting them is simple! Conscious adjustments to fix your bad sitting habits will become second nature very quickly. Having the right place to sit is a key factor. Adjust your office chair or choose the right zero gravity chair for your home and how much better you feel right away.
Feeling the pain from your bad sitting habits already? Check out these 5 lifestyle changes to improve lower back pain.