You may have heard the recent buzz in the news regarding the negative impact that sitting has on the human body. Today, 80% of Americans are spending the majority of their days sitting at a desk. While this is a necessity for most careers, new statistics point to the increased health risks associated with remaining in a sedentary position for too long. Let’s take a closer look at the way sitting impacts our bodies and how we can curb the myriad of harmful side effects from conducting business as usual.
As humans have evolved, our lifestyles have changed and while our ancestors spent their time foraging and hunting, present day humans exercise their cognitive abilities to navigate through their environment. The human body, however, was originally designed for movement. For many of us, the average day includes driving to work, spending hours in front of a computer screen, and going home to enjoy a few hours of relaxation. Even if exercise plays a part in our daily regime, it may not be enough to combat all this sitting – an average of 7.7 hours per day! (http://bit.ly/1Ahfz4D)
According to a recent article in New York Times Magazine, the moment you sit down, calorie burning plummets down to one per minute; enzymes that help to burn fat reduce production by 90%; and electric activity in the legs shut off. After two hours of sitting, good cholesterol drops by 20%. (http://cbsn.ws/1zMDyKd)
A recent article in the Washington Post determined that sitting equates to a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, poor cholesterol, and limited range of motion. (http://wapo.st/1e9Skzh) In a thirteen year study conducted by Pennington Biomedical Research Center, it was determined that people who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks.
The best thing we can do for our body is break up these long stretches of sitting during the day. Consider replacing your chair with an exercise ball or backless stool, which will engage core muscles to keep you upright. Keep a small beverage glass at your desk and get up frequently to refill it at the water cooler, which will help to get your leg muscles moving. Use the sound of a phone ringing or a commercial break on the television as a cue to stand up. Many companies are even warming to the idea of desks which can be converted to adapt to a sitting or standing position. While you are sitting at your desk, make sure you maintain proper posture, which can help limit spinal stress and disk damage. Keep your back straight, elbows positioned at a ninety degree angle, and feet flat on the floor.
To deal with tight muscles and back pain often attributed to sitting, try yoga poses like the Cat or Cow (http://bit.ly/VN6rbm). If pain persists, seek the experience of a physical therapist, who can design specific stretches to target the affected muscle areas and help to reduce discomfort.
South County Physical Therapy Inc.’s skilled team members can develop a program formatted for your precise concerns with exercises to get you out of your seat and on your way to better health. Call us today for an informative consultation at 508-832-2628.