Did you just take a road trip to see the fall colors and come back almost unable to walk?
Are you working from home and finally finished that long report that took 6 hours?
Are you retired and knitting is your hobby, and you are working on Christmas presents?
Have you been binge-watching your favorite TV show?
All these activities have one thing in common – sitting, for hours. Joe Leech wrote in Healthline that “The average office worker spends up to 15 hours a day seated.” And there are only 24 hours in a day – that’s more than half your day!
If your hips hurt or your lower back is beginning to give you grief, then it’s time to reevaluate your lifestyle. In our society, prolonged sitting is normal in many settings. But take a look at all your activities and see which ones could be done standing and which ones can you break every now and then. Your health and mortality depend on it.
How Unhealthy Is Prolonged Sitting?
According to the World Health Organization, 6% of global deaths are accounted for by a sedentary lifestyle. That’s approximately 3.2 million deaths each year attributable to insufficient
physical activity. We don’t die from just sitting but from the complications associated with long periods of sitting. In a study done by Hidde van der Ploeg PhD et al on Australian adults, the researchers found that prolonged sitting was responsible for reduced metabolic and vascular health. They found that when we sit for more than 8 hours at a time our body experiences increased plasma triglyceride levels, decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and decreased insulin sensitivity.
What that means is that your sedentary behavior leads to stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, poor circulation – not to mention obesity. And those are the adverse effects of sitting that we die from.
Your lower spine is three times more stressed when you are sitting, compared to standing. Long periods of continued sitting can lead to chronic back conditions. Take a break from work every 30 minutes or so. Even a quick walk around your desk is enough.
Now that so many of us are working from home this is more important than ever. In an office environment we have multiple chances to interact with colleagues but at home we are often alone or meeting with zoom calls. Record your sitting hours for a week, I’ll bet you’ll be surprised!
How Ergonomically Correct Is Your Chair and Desk?
Sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your health BUT sitting hunched over your computer is even worse. Not only do you increase your chance of an early death, but because of poor posture you set yourself up for increased upper back pain and decreased ability to breathe. Rounded shoulders and a forward head posture cause the muscles around the chest to tighten, making it harder for the lungs to expand and contract. Over time this will lead to complications that will seriously decrease your quality of life.
One of the short-term effects of prolonged sitting is you will actually feel more tired. That is an accumulated effect of the sitting and lack of oxygen.
Does Daily Physical Exercise Help?
How much do you exercise? The World Health Organization recommends that “adults participate in at least 150 minutes of at least moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week…” That equals only 2 ½ hours of aerobics per week of increased heart rate. Find some aerobic activity you like to do, then you’ll do it. Walk your dog, ride your bicycle, play with your kids – what can you think of that’s fun and active?
I recommend you move around as much as possible to retain mobility. High impact movements combined with low impact movements use more of your muscle groups. Yoga poses and stretches help to lengthen tendons that have been compressed by sitting.
There are also exercises that take very little time and help to alleviate some of the damage done to your body from prolonged sitting. If your neck and upper body are stiff and sore try pushups against your desk, high planks, and dumbbell shrugs. Sore and aching hips benefit from lunges and squats which also benefit your legs and glutes.
And Come In For An Adjustment
No matter how much we try we overdue raking leaves, playing with the kids, or take a road trip that’s just a little too long. Every time we fall, we mess up the vertebrae in our back. Poor posture also causes misalignment of the vertebrae, causing pinched nerves and eventually pain. Getting a chiropractic adjustment keeps you going.
We’re open Monday and Friday from 8:30 to 6:00 and Wednesday from 7:30 to 6:00. We know third shifters need attention too.
So, come in, get an adjustment, and say hi to Sedona. There’s a lot to be said for a straight spine AND unconditional love.
Check back next month when I discuss vitamins and supplements to support your immune system during Covid-19 and the flu season.