Sitting for many hours day after day is a risk factor for developing a deep vein thrombosis.
This type of blood clot can travel to the lungs and kill a person in just minutes.
That’s why it’s so crucial to avoid them in the first place.
The “Sitting Disease” Can Lead to a Dangerous Blood Clot
“People who sit all day are at higher risk for a DVT,” says J. Mark Anderson, MD, DABFM, of Executive Medicine of Texas and who is board certified in family medicine.
“This is true if they sit at their desk at work, on the couch at home, or spend a great deal of time flying and sitting on airplanes,” explains Dr. Anderson.
The risk is compounded if any of the following apply to you:
• Obese or even moderate overweight
• No exercise regimen
• Use of birth control pills
But even if you’re trim and work out at a gym, have never smoked and are not on the Pill, you still have a risk factor for DVT if you’re on your butt for at least five hours a day with few breaks.
That’s because excessive sitting is an independent risk factor for a deep vein thrombosis.
“The body was made to move, and movement helps with circulation,” says Dr. Anderson. “That is why you should stand, squat or walk for three to four minutes for every 30 minutes you spend sitting.”
Additional movements to consider:
• Wall sit directly against a wall or against a fitness ball against a wall. Aim for 30 seconds.
• Marching or jogging in place.
• Balancing or squatting on a BOSU board.
• Yoga poses.
• Side to side or forward lunges in place or across a room.
“If you have to stay seated, like on a long flight, you can do exercises with your feet and legs that will increase blood flow,” says Dr. Anderson.
“Take your feet and make small circles in one direction for a minute or two and then reverse the direction and do it again.
“Take time to straighten your legs and then bring them back to the bent position.
“Bouncing one knee and then the other will also help get the blood flowing and prevent DVT.”
If you’re stuck at a desk, you may want to consider using a pedaling device that fits easily under a desk.
But do make an effort to avoid sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time, even if it means standing and walking in place for only one minute. Doing this consistently will lower the risk of blood clot formation in the legs.
Dr. Anderson is coauthor of the award-winning book, “Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health,” and host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Show which goes to podcast as Staying Young Show 2.0.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.