Are the Side Effects of Sitting a Threat to Your Health?
In the Age of Technology, most humans are spending increasingly less time on our feet, and increasingly more hours in some sort of sitting posture. Driving, working on a computer, being entertained and becoming educated all entail long bouts of sitting with few interludes of standing, walking or large muscle movement of any kind.
While working at a desk job is often coveted over manual labor, it can have deleterious effects on overall health, particularly when leisure activities are also sedentary in nature. The human body is designed to move, and being sedentary interferes with all of your body’s systems, causing them to malfunction and deteriorate.
Standing and being physically active throughout the day have many positive effects on your overall health, including:
- Increased blood flow, with increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout your body
- Improved bone density and joint function
- Better posture
- Enhanced organ function
- Stronger, more pliant muscles and joints
- Better mood
- Flatter stomach
The Deadly Dangers of Sitting
There are several ways in which sitting for long hours has adverse effects on your health:
- Increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease
- Malfunctioning pancreas and increased insulin resistance
- Increased risk of colon, breast and endometrial cancers
- Flabby abdominal and core muscles
- Incontinence and organ prolapse
- Tight hip flexor muscles and saggy buttocks
- Reduced circulation in legs, leading to cellulite and varicose veins
- Low bone density
- Diminished cognitive function
- Sloped shoulders and neck pain
- Impinged spinal discs
- Weak rotator cuff muscles
- Poor posture
- Low back pain
- Premature aging and risk of death
- Undesirable weight gain
10 Tips for Countering the Negative Effects of Sitting
When it comes to sitting for long hours day after day, many of us have little choice. Work and school often limit our mobility. But there are many things you can do to counteract the negative effects of sitting:
- Take a two minute activity break at least once per hour. Stand up and stretch, jump up and down, or take a lap around your work space.
- Go outdoors and walk during your lunch break, or climb the stairs in your building.
- If possible, elevate your computer and stand at your workspace.
- Walk, bike or take public transportation rather than driving.
- Instead of binging your favorite TV shows on the weekends, get out and get active.
- Join a gym or group exercise class and commit to regular workouts, including resistance training.
- Stretch daily, taking extra time for hip flexor, chest, calf and low back muscles.
- Work your core muscles at least twice a week with planks, bridges and crunches.
- Check your posture while sitting: Keep both feet flat on the floor, pull your shoulders back and down, tuck your elbows in, support your low back, lengthen your neck.
- Elevate your heart rate for at least 15 minutes daily, either in one bout, or in shorter spurts throughout the day.
Exercising may seem time consuming and it requires effort, but it is time and effort well spent. Undoing the damage of sitting once negative side effects have set in is much harder than taking preventative measures.
The team at NYDNRehab is dedicated to keeping you moving with the best form and function. Our cutting edge therapies and state-of-the-art technologies can help you learn to move with mechanical efficiency, placing the least amount of stress on your body.
Contact NYDNRehab today, and ask for a gait and movement analysis. We will identify what you are doing wrong, and show you how to move, sit and stand in ways that promote health, wellness and improved quality of life.