If you’ve spent any time reading health-related content online, you’ve probably seen a number of articles telling you how horrible sitting is for your health. Some articles may go so far as to compare sitting to smoking or tell readers that sitting is the thing that’s killing them.
The truth is, though, that the writers preaching about the evils of sitting have the facts entirely wrong. Sitting doesn’t lead to poor health — lack of activity does. Some people — scared to death of sitting — resort to standing at their computers while they work. If you’re spending all of your time standing — and not exercising — you’re doing things the wrong way.
If you spend all of your time sitting, your body will eventually adapt to your lack of activity. Your spine, hamstrings and hips will begin to weaken because sitting tells your body that your core muscles aren’t needed. Your body increasingly becomes good at sitting rather than moving.
Over time, the weakening of your core muscles can lead to another side effect: poor posture during walking. Chairs are comfortable because they support your back for you. Since you no longer need to support your own back, your core muscles weaken. As a result, you’ll compensate with the muscles in your back when walking — and you’ll walk with poor posture. When you do sit, counteract the damage to your posture by keeping your core muscles engaged.
There is nothing wrong with periodic sitting. Sitting with poor posture and never exercising, though, does lead to problems. Prevent the damage of constant sitting in three ways:
You’re likely to spend most of your time sitting when you work during the day. To keep your body moving, you should remind yourself to stand up and move around periodically. You can use a timer, for example, as a reminder that you need to stand up and refill your water bottle or go for a short walk around the office.
If you lean against the back of your chair when you sit, you aren’t working your core muscles at all. You can combat muscle atrophy simply by sitting straight with your body moved away from the back of the chair. You can use an audible alert such as a wind-up timer to remind yourself periodically of the need to maintain proper posture.
If you spend much of your time sitting, your core probably includes the muscle groups that need the most training. Exercise as often as possible. When you do, target the core muscle groups with the workout regimen that you select.
As our labor force becomes increasingly technical, more and more people in the workforce spend the majority of their time sitting at desks. There isn’t anything wrong with sitting, though — the problem is what non-stop sitting ultimately leads to. If you recognize that lack of movement is the true problem, you can work to correct the problem — and sit as much as you like.