If you sit with your legs crossed on a regular basis, it might be time to stop feeling so guilty about it. While there are a few specific exceptions, crossing one's legs at the knee or the ankle doesn't appear to be as bad for our health as some experts have said. Analyzing studies that have looked for links to varicose veins, nerve damage, and elevated blood pressure, the BBC reports that the science shows "you’re unlikely to do yourself any damage, provided you don’t stay in the same position until your legs are numb." First, sitting in one position for many hours without moving can lead to a condition known as "peroneal nerve palsy," but this is true for any pose.
Second, while most studies do find a momentary elevation in blood pressure when crossing one's legs at the knee, it goes away quickly and unless you're at a high risk of blood clots, there doesn't appear to be any long-term harm. As for what causes varicose veins, experts disagree, with some pointing to genetics and others saying that leg crossing can lead to damaged veins into which blood can leak and pool, reports Yahoo. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal notes that leg-crossing is among the simple solutions to the human fainting response offered up by doctors studying the issue. In other words, the jury's still out, but leg crossing doesn't appear to be particularly pernicious. (One researcher proposes a series of sitting, standing, and stretching while we work.)