The Dangers Of Sitting; A Precursor for Disease and Back Pain

The Dangers of Sitting, and What to do to prevent Back Pain from Sitting Too Much

Sedentary behaviour, which is sitting or lying down while awake, puts you at an increased risk of disease, depression, anxiety and musculoskeletal pain such as back pain. Humans are made to be upright – our body systems function more efficiently in this position, and too much sitting has an effect on our muscles, digestion, cardiovascular system and mood. In this case sitting could mean time at your desk, watching TV or driving a car for example.

Sitting affects the Muscles, Digestion, Veins and our Mind

When we sit, the muscles at the front of the hip is in a short position, and this makes them feel tight when we stand up. A lot of sitting can also lead to weakness in the large muscles in our legs – which makes us more prone to injury and back pain. Movement during the day helps us to process sugars and fats – if we don’t move enough, the body stores the fats which you may notice as weight gain.

Sitting for too long can cause blood to pool in the legs, which can lead to swelling around the ankles and varicose veins in the long term. This happens because our body uses movement to push blood back toward the heart. Lastly, we don’t know why, but people who sit more are more prone to depression and anxiety – we think it could be because they are missing out on the benefits of physical activity.

How much sitting do we do?

In Australia in 2016, 54% of women and 51% of men were sitting too much. 80% of children did not do enough physical activity.

Being active every day will help!


Try to be more active during day-to-day tasks – even if you are already doing the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Learn more about the Australian Exercise Guidelines here.

Ways to be more active:

  • Don’t sit, stretch
  • Incidental activity

  • Choose to walk or cycle instead of driving (or walk part of the way)

  • Use stairs or walk up the escalator

  • Park at the far end of the car park

  • Active at work

active at work
  • Walk around while on the phone

  • Walk to talk to colleagues instead of emailing

  • Take your lunch break outside, and reap the extra benefits by going to a green space like a park

  • Have walking meetings

  • Get moving at your desk with some shoulder rolls, sit-to-stands or neck circles

  • (see our post about improving posture at your desk)


Consider a sit-to-stand desk, where you change position every 30-60 minutes. It surprises us how many peoples back pain improves as soon as they are sitting less and moving more.

Active in bad or hot weather

  • Have a dance party in your house and Shake it off!

  • Youtube Yoga or Pilates

  • Visit an indoor swimming pool

  • Indoor rock climbing

Notice your sedentary behaviour at home and try to make a change

  • Set a timer and get moving for 10 minutes out of each hour.

  • Split housework up so you are moving throughout the day.

  • Try audiobooks while you clean, garden or walk, rather than sitting down to read.

  • Do some simple bodyweight exercises like squats or lunges during ad breaks while watching television.

  • Many will feel almost immediate improvement in aches and pains.

Getting Moving Helps to Prevent the Effects of Sitting

Now that you know what the dangers of sitting are, we can help you to get moving some more. Check out our other blog posts on stress and as Osteopaths, we can help you to develop some strategies for getting moving more in your day, without injuring yourself. We can also help you to prevent back pain from sitting. Book an appointment today, or click here to learn more about Osteopathy.