We all do it. Everyday. Multiple hours a day. People sit. People sit for breakfast. We sit during our commute to work. At our desk in front of the computer punching away at keys. We sit for lunch. Individuals sit during meetings. During our return commute. We sit for dinner. And finally most sit to unwind at night in front of the TV, Ipad, or a good book. I believe you get the idea, we are constantly sitting.
The Effects of Sitting
According to the Mayo Clinic, prolong periods of sitting may contribute to a certain number of health concerns which include obesity and metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting may also increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
That is just from an internal standpoint. Sitting for extended periods and sitting with poor posture also increases the stress and tension on our joints, muscles, and discs. Sitting in a slouched position can contribute to headaches, neck pain, low back pain, numbness in our arms, and “knots” in our upper back and shoulders. One of the most critical aspects of prolonged sitting is it can actually change the structure of our spine. This means postural, structural and functional imbalances, loss of our natural spinal curves, and increased degenerative changes (arthritis) at certain levels.
Fight the Effects of Sitting
For most of us we can’t change our jobs. However, we can change our circumstances by altering our desk setup or tweaking our daily routine. The biggest thing in which we can improve on is movement. Movement is our body’s natural medicine. When we withdraw ourselves from a sedentary lifestyle, motion is restored to our body, joints, and muscles. The number of positive benefits to the mind and body is priceless. Increased energy, weight loss, mood enhancement, increased strength, and decreased pain are just to name a few. Movement Is Life And Life Is Movement!
Tips to Fight Prolonged Sitting
One of the most important things we can do is move during work. The majority of time sitting happens at our desk. Typically 8-9 hours a day with slight movement. A few minutes during break, to go to the restroom, and a short amount of time during lunch. I believe if we move during our day 5-10 minutes per hour, this with help fight aches and pains, increase energy levels, and enhance our mood. A few tips to get you moving throughout your work day:
- Stand when talking on the phone
- Try to incorporate a standing desk. Most companies have an ergonomics specialist that can do an assessment of your workstation and recommend a standing desk. Inquire with HR.
- Meetings on the move. If you are having a 1 on 1 or a meeting of 3, try to walk during your meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
- Park towards the back of the parking lot to increase walking.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk or workout over your lunch break. This will definitely increased energy levels and keep you from the 2 pm crash. (Ask a coworker to join. It is always easier when someone else is doing it with you and it will hold you accountable)
Another key tip is take 5-10 minutes every hour and stretch at your desk. Set an alarm on your phone or computer or schedule it on your daily calendar to remind you to move. Below are stretches for you to perform multiple times throughout your day to help keep your muscles and joints loose and in motion.
Movement Is Life, Life Is Movement
Day in and day out this is one of the most important principles I try to instill into patients. If you don’t move you expire. Some may say this is a little far fetched. However, a rolling stone gathers no moss. Some say they don’t have time to move or exercise. If this is the case please read my prior post The #1 Exercise I Prescribe To Patients. Excuses are nothing but venom that poisons the mind. There is always time. Many think they are to overweight or out of shape to become active. I believe you have to start somewhere. Even if it is 5 minutes a day. 5 minutes is better than nothing. The point being is Move. The majority of the population lives in a much too sedentary world. Their life is consumed with sitting. And not to far behind are the negative effects of sitting on their health. Make the change. Introduce more movement into your daily life and fight the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.