If you haven’t heard it already, here it is: Sitting is the new smoking! The amount of time we spend sitting has increased drastically over the years. The majority of us sit in the car on the way to work, sit at a desk all day at the office, sit on the way home from work, sit for dinner, and sit in front of the t.v. for an hour or more before bed. Sitting affects our posture, and it can lead to neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain and headaches, but it can also cause other serious health conditions. Sitting and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, digestive issues, and degenerative brain diseases like dementia.
Legs and gluteals (bum muscles)
Sitting for long periods can lead to weakening and wasting away of the large leg and gluteal muscles. These large muscles are important for walking and for stabilizing you. If these muscles are weak you are more likely to injure yourself from falls, and from strains when you do exercise.
Hips and back
Just like your legs and gluteals, your hips and back will not support you as well if you sit for long periods. Sitting causes your hip flexor muscles to shorten, which can lead to problems with your hip joints.
Sitting for long periods can also cause problems with your back, especially if you consistently sit with poor posture or don’t use an ergonomically designed chair or workstation. Poor posture may also cause poor spine health such as compression in the discs in your spine, leading to premature degeneration, which can be very painful.
Our bodies were made to move! I’m not saying you have to become a marathon runner, but activity is a must. Taking multiple short, “micro-breaks” throughout the day adds up. These micro-breaks give our body a chance to move. Movement increases blood flow, energy, and makes us feel good! (Hint: this is why you feel better after an adjustment. Adjustment = spine movement = feel better). Movement is medicine!
It seems clear that less sitting and more moving overall contribute to better health. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting when you have the chance or finding ways to walk while you work. For example:
- Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes.
- Stand while talking on the phone or watching television.
- If you work at a desk, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
- Walk with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room.
- Position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — so that you can be in motion throughout the day.