What You Don’t Know About Sitting Could Hurt You
Did you know that the average American sits for 13 hours per day?
Now factor in 7-8 hours of sleep and it translates to a ton of time off your feet each and every day. Plus, as technology continues to rise, it becomes even easier to become less active in day-to-day life. Sure, you may know that you should find more time to work out, but between the desk job work and the commute time in a car, the sitting hours tend to stack up more rapidly than the active standing, walking, or general moving hours.
It may not come as a huge surprise that as our population falls deeper into the sedentary lifestyle trap, new health concerns have come to light. However, we’re also not ignorant to the fact that much of today’s workforce requires logging some serious time in front of a computer on a daily basis. Don’t worry – you don’t need to quit your day job, but you do need to take a more proactive approach to ward off the potential pitfalls of inactivity— after all, our bodies were made to move!
What Exactly Is Sitting Disease?
Sitting disease is a term that’s been adopted to reference the negative health effects of a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, premature death…the list of these effects is long and quite ugly in nature. You see, when we sit, our metabolism slows down. While this can be a good thing to rest after a grueling day on our feet or a tough workout, the real issue arises when it becomes the new normal in your lifestyle. If your metabolism actually changes to slow down completely because of too much sitting, you put yourself at risk for type two diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Keep in mind that the negative metabolic effects of sitting are compounded with a lack of other exercises as well.
Prolonged sitting also puts undue stress on your back. When we’re in a sitting position day in and day out, the discs between our vertebrae – our shock absorbers – absorb more pressure. In fact, they absorb more pressure in a sitting position than they do in a standing position! Thus, prolonged sitting can actually lead to back injury, like a disc herniation, simply from pressure buildup over time. Obviously, not great.
So You Work A Desk Job – Now What?
We understand that this news may be a bit disconcerting if you’re one of the many who works a desk job. The good news is that even amidst a workforce that signals many of us to sit for long periods of time, there is a myriad of strategies to incorporate movement to combat the sedentary lifestyle. The key is staying aware of how much you’re sitting, and proactively working toward incorporating more movement throughout your day, even though it may not be traditionally scheduled. So what are some easy-to-implement options?
Take A Walk Break
Sure, you need your lunch break to refuel and get a good meal in. But, chances are, you still have time to burn after your daily sandwich. Instead of scrolling through social media on your phone, find a brisk walking route around your office to get some fresh air and get your blood pumping. Better yet, snag a colleague to keep you company! You’ll come back to the second portion of your workday refreshed and ready to go.
Try Some Desk Yoga
When you’re feeling tight and cramped from sitting but can’t quite take a walking break, try performing some stretches from your chair. Tilt your head from side to side for a good neck stretch, reach overhead to stretch your rib cage, bend forward to touch your toes…get creative with this! There’s more movement to be had from the space of your chair than you may think.
Explore Alternative Desk Options
The simple act of standing is actually a form of exercise – and it’s so simple! In fact, you burn 30% more calories when you’re standing rather than sitting. Many people have begun to adopt a standing desk option as a way to stay on top of their health amidst a busy computer-based work life. The physical toll of sitting at a desk for long days compounded over time has also caused many back issues – and the standing desk is one way to combat that.
If a standing desk is not an option, using an exercise ball in lieu of a traditional chair could be another good route. Sitting on an exercise ball requires you to engage your core, and enforces good posture along the way. The slight instability keeps small muscles activated throughout the workday.
Don’t Neglect The Little Things
Take the stairs. Instead of sitting down on the couch to watch TV after work, take your dog for a walk. Cut down on screen time outside of work. These small habits can add up over time to contribute to a healthy life.
You Are What You Eat
Your diet can actually play a big role here! Eating balanced, healthy foods can have an immensely positive impact on the way that you feel. Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean some intense fad diet, but rather making a concerted effort to eat more produce and real food, and less processed food. Simple enough, right?
Chiropractic Supports A Healthy Lifestyle
Chiropractic care, in general, is a great way to stay on top of overall health and wellness when incorporated as a part of a consistent plan. The gentle chiropractic adjustments of the spine, neck, and extremities help to realign your body and provide relief to your entire system. These adjustments also serve to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body and immune system to communicate and function better.
Your practitioner can address different areas of stress in your body, and help to treat the root cause of any lingering aches and pains that may have cropped up from excessive sitting. They can also help guide you through some at-home exercises that may be best for your situation. Regardless, by working consistent chiropractic care into your routine, you’re providing a great service to your body.
Prioritize your health. Take care of your body. Schedule your appointment online or call (256) 333-9429.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.