By Anna Checket
You may have heard by now that prolonged sitting is bad for your health. From phrases like “sitting is the new smoking” to headlines that read “Sitting Can Kill You” – the dangers of sitting are certainly getting some attention. In most people’s real-world, however, it’s impossible to get work done away from a computer… so if you’re experiencing some concern around this topic, read on to get plugged in on the straightforward facts about sedentarism, and how you can adjust your habits to take control of your health.
Why’s it so bad?
-Prolonged sitting has been linked to a long list of health concerns: heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, weight gain, anxiety, depressive mood and even cancer (to name only a few).
-The postural effects adaptively change your body to reflect a seated, slouched-over posture, which means chronic low-back, neck, and shoulder pain. Not to mention increased susceptibility to deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins.
-Extended sitting has been linked to higher mortality rates; the longer one sits – the greater their risk of early death becomes.
What can I do?
-Exercise. While more exercise has not been shown to “undo” the effects of sitting (only sitting less can improve that situation), it does contribute to more time spent moving and detracts from sedentary pastimes such as watching tv, which makes matters worse.
-Prioritize postural strength and mobility. Intentionally working to improve your postural patterns can make a stunning difference in not only your appearance, but also in your health. Prolonged sitting adaptively locks people into a rounded over position, bringing the spine out of neutrality, which often causes chronic pain. Humans are simply not designed to sit for 8 hours a day… but the body is an adaptive organism and will reflect the lines of stress imposed upon it. Taking some time daily for soft-tissue work, mobility, and activation drills to address postural adaptations from sitting can help your body stay in alignment. Here’s one of our favorite thoracic spine mobility drills.
-Sit less at work. Aim for 30 minutes or less at a time of sitting, and be prepared with stretches, drills, or a short game plan (even if its a minute-long walk down the hall) to do during scheduled time out of your chair. Check out this hip flexor stretch to address low-back pain. Be diligent to take all of your breaks, and set an alarm if you have to. Once you get into a routine it will become more second-nature.
-Remember that health is maintained on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis. It’s a culmination of your habits and commitment over time. It is not achieved all at once or in one dose… and there is no quick fix. The more you embrace your health as a process, the more positive energy you will pour into it, and the more authentic adherence and positive outcomes you will see.