Studies show that the average person is either sitting or being inactive (watching tv, etc) for more than HALF their waking hours. Sitting is not only a pain in the butt, but it also comes with a myriad of health issues. Besides postural issues, prolonged sitting has been linked, in 47 separate studies, to an increased risk of an early death. In my own experience, my current job is the first I have that I sit for extended periods of time. Within two years, even with dedicated stretching and foam rolling, I can tell my hip flexors and hamstrings are tighter, my hips are out of alignment due to muscle tightening from how I sit (correcting), and I suffered my first back injury. I loathe sitting.
Let’s examine further the detriments of sitting. As I mentioned above, sitting leads to an increased risk of death and muscle imbalances, but why is that? Prolonged sitting leads to:
- Increased CHOLESTEROL and BLOOD PRESSURE due to decreased blood flow, which allows more fatty acid build up, and decreased sugar and fat metabolism (METABOLIC SYNDROME)
- Twice as likely due to die from CARDIOVASCULAR DIEASE due to the symptoms listed in “1”
- Increased insulin build up due to lack of absorption from idle muscles, can lead to TYPE II DIABETES
- Foggy Brain and can lead to DEMENTIA due to lack of fresh blood flow
- Increased risk for CANCERS, such as breast, colon, and ovarian
- Poor POSTURE due to
- Tight hip flexors and hamstrings
- Loose/weakened glutes and lumbar postural muscles
- Hunching forward of the shoulders and neck
- Weakened core/abdominal muscles
- Poor CIRCULATION and soft bones due to lack of load bearing movement
After reading that, you’re probably ready to get up right now! In fact, you should, as we burn 30% more calories standing than while sitting. While there are many negatives associated with prolonged sitting, luckily it is an easy problem to fix.
- Get off your butt
- If possible, use a standing or treadmill desk
- If not possible, set an alarm to remind you to get up and move. Every 1-2 hours, for 5 minutes at a time is sufficient
- Do the same during commercial breaks if watching TV
- Use a Stability Ball/Stability Chair
- Find creative ways to get more activity
- If you don’t like being outside, try WiiFit or similar interactive game.
- Park further away from the store
- Use stairs when possible
- Join an adult gaming league, there is one in every city
- Do yardwork
- Get a dog, an in your face reason to go outside for a walk
- Implement a strength and mobility program that addresses the weak and tight muscles due to sitting. A focus should be on functional movements that emphasizes core strength
- Implement muscle care techniques such as Myofascial Release, EMR, Foam Rolling, Cupping, etc
While we may be forced to spend many of our waking hours sitting, mostly in front of a computer, there are luckily easy remedies to fight sitting’s negative effects. Prolonged sitting may lead to chronic disease or even early death if not combated, but with action steps listed above those effects can be greatly diminished. So sit if you have to, move as much as you can when you can, get creative, and beat that pain in the ass. With that said… I am going outside.