Not moving enough is bad for your health, and it may actually be dangerous.
COVID-19 changed our lives, with effects we may not even be aware of. As we worked from home and spent less time going out, many of us became more sedentary than ever. Lunchtime walks with co-workers, exercise sessions at the gym, and trips to the mall suddenly stopped.
As our world became smaller, we spent more time sitting on the couch or at the computer. And even though we had more time, it often became difficult to motivate ourselves to get moving.
You may still find it hard to be as active as you once were. You may feel uneasy going to the gym, even if it's open. You might still be working remotely and sitting too much all day. Maybe you've lost your motivation to make exercise a priority.
It's important to stay physically active to maintain your overall health and to help you lose or maintain your weight. But also, when you sit too much, you face a risk you likely never even thought of: a life-threatening blood clot.
Why Sitting Too Much Is Dangerous
Blood circulation slows when you sit for long periods of time. When this happens, blood cells may clump together, forming a clot. Clots most often develop in blood vessels in the lower legs due to prolonged inactivity – referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
If the clot travels to your brain, it can block normal blood flow and trigger a stroke. Clots can also travel to your heart or lung (pulmonary embolism), causing shortness of breath, pain, or even death.
Symptoms of a blood clot in your leg include a cramp-like sensation or the skin over the clot may feel warm. But you may not experience any symptoms at all.
How to Prevent a Blood Clot
Just getting up and moving more is a simple, effective way to reduce your risk of dangerous blood clots. In one research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, participants who sat less than 30 minutes at a time were less likely to die than those who didn’t take frequent breaks.
If you’ve got a little too comfortable on the couch, try these tips to move more and lower your risk of developing a life-threatening blood clot.
Set a Timer
Schedule an activity break every 30 minutes. Take a lap around your house, office or yard, jog in place, or do a few jumping jacks to get your blood flowing.
Use a Standing Desk
Standing helps improve blood circulation compared to sitting. If you use a standing desk, alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Move Whenever Possible
Make everyday routines more active. Dance while cooking, clean the house, or stand while folding laundry. Every bit of activity helps improve circulation.
Take Breaks During Road Trips
If you’re traveling these days, you’re more likely to do it by car than via public transportation. Get out of the car every 30 - 60 minutes to stretch your legs.
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