How Prolonged Sitting Affects Your Leg Health


Many of us spend hours a day sitting. Especially those who work office jobs or even remote work, you spend a large portion of your day sitting at a desk. Sitting for too long can actually have negative effects on your body. Prolonged sitting can cause improper circulation, which can even lead to serious health issues. 

Throughout the day, your body is constantly pumping blood from the heart throughout your body, back to the heart for reoxygenation, and then back throughout your body again. This process of circulation does not happen easily though. Your body has to fight against gravity to move the blood in your feet and legs all the way back up to your heart. The blood in your feet and legs is pumped back up to your heart with the help of vessels. When the muscles in your legs contract, such as when you are walking or exercising, they help the vessels push blood back up to your heart. When you sit for long periods of time, it is even harder for the blood to get pumped back up to the heart because gravity makes it more likely for the blood to pool in your feet and legs, and the muscles in your legs are not moving to help the vessels pump blood back up. This causes poor circulation in your feet and legs, and throughout your entire body. 

The lack of proper circulation causes strain on your vessels and can cause them to weaken over time. Poor circulation can cause unpleasant symptoms such as heaviness, tiredness, aching or swelling in your feet and legs, shortness of breath and feeling tired. Improper circulation over time can lead to more serious health concerns such as varicose veins, venous disease, chronic venous insufficiency or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Any of the previous conditions can be painful and cause unpleasant symptoms. Conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency or DVT can be incredibly serious and lead to severe health issues. 

While there is no way to completely avoid sitting, even occasionally for long periods, there are steps that you can take to reduce prolonged sitting and improve your circulation. Improved circulation will not only help prevent serious health problems, but also improve your leg health and overall health. Here are a few simple ways that you can reduce your time spent sitting and improve the circulation in your legs and feet: 

1. Wear Compression Socks - Wearing compression socks is a very simple and easy way to improve circulation in your legs and feet. Compression works by applying pressure to help your vessels and veins move blood back up to the heart for better circulation. Medical grade graduated compression socks have graduated compression, meaning it is tightest at the ankle and gradually loosens as it goes up the leg for proper circulation. Wearing compression on daily, or at least on the days you spend much of your time sitting, is a great way to improve circulation. All you have to do is put on your compression socks in the morning and you'll be improving your health all day long! Medi has a great collection of compression socks in a variety of styles, prices and fabrics so you can find a pair that's just right for you.

2. Use Proper Form - When you are sitting, try to practice proper form. Avoid crossing your legs and try to keep your feet flat on the floor. 

3. Take a Break - If you do need to sit for long hours throughout the day, try to get up and take short breaks regularly. Aim to take a break every hour or two. You don't have to stop for long, just simply getting up for a few minutes to stretch or take a short walk outside will help get your muscles moving and move blood back up to the heart. 

4. Use a Stability Ball - Try switching out your chair for a stability ball. Stability balls are great because they encourage better posture. The muscles in your stomach, back and legs are also activated as you work to keep balance while sitting on the ball. Activating those muscles will help improve your circulation. 

5. Increase Your Steps - If you sit for long hours a day, try to find ways to increase your steps throughout the rest of your day. As you go throughout your day, look for little ways that you can increase your steps such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther back in the parking lot, or even taking a slightly longer walking route. These little changes can add up to a lot of extra walking and movement throughout your day. 

6. Exercise Regularly - Regular exercise is not only a very effective way to improve leg circulation and health, but also your overall health. There are even simple exercises that you can do if you are stuck sitting or at your desk for hours. If you are able to get up and step away for a few minutes, take a short walk or march in place. White sitting, you can do leg extensions or heel and toe taps which will activate the muscles in your legs. 


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