Sitting All Day, The New Smoking
Sitting all day? This will help!
It’s been labeled as the new smoking and the research has revealed an expansive list of associated health implications; sitting is not doing our health any favours.
Through a range of biomechanical and physiological processes, sitting changes your biochemistry – causing a cascade of implications involving inflammation, poor metabolism, and poor health.
Over the past 15 years, sitting has been linked to higher rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and even depression; It’s not just a sore lower back and neck that you’re going to be dealing with if you don’t make some changes.
Similar to stress, in many cases it cannot be avoided but it can definitely be managed better.
While more and more workplaces are introducing workspaces and initiatives that favour our health in stand up desks and alternate work stations where employees are encouraged to move around, the reality is, most people still spend the majority of their day in the seated position in front of a computer or laptop.
Don’t be disheartened though, because there are certain things that you can do to take control, and to take responsibility for the impact it’s going to have on you, your health, your body, your mental state, and your life.
Firstly, how long you sit (or stand) for. Research shows that getting up and moving every 30 minutes will help lessen the load and negative effects on your health. Moving for a minimum of 60 seconds every 30 minutes is the recommendation. So set a timer, and commit to sticking to it.
If stand up desks are an option – alternate between sitting and standing.
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day should encourage you to use the bathroom on the regular too.
How you are sitting. What is your posture like? Are you slumping? Slumping not only places extra strain on the back and neck, but it restricts breathing and impedes digestion. In his book ‘A life less Stressed’ holistic Dentist Dr. Ron Erlich shares a study where posture was controlled, and those less slumped reported higher self esteem, better mood and less fear. Correcting your posture is life-changing – and if you need help on where to start, seek a health professional like an Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist.
Is your workstation set up properly like the figure below?
What are you doing between sitting periods? During lunch breaks and going to and from work? It blows me away seeing people on the commute to work walking through a train station and then opting for the escalator instead of the stairs when they are on their way into work to sit all day. Or if there is only an escalator option, the right hand side is for walking up, so use it.
On your lunch break, get outdoors and show your body some love by moving it.
One of the most common things I see in practice when it comes to postural related pain is an underlying weakness. Particularly in the core muscles and upper back. Both of these can be worked on through exercise and again, can have a significant impact on how you sit, and how your body copes with sitting. Sometimes I think sitting needs to be viewed more like a sport; If we can be fitter for it, it will have less stress on us. Invest time into getting stronger.
Like anything, change feels hard when it’s new. Make small changes one step at a time, and appreciate that because you have a desk job, you’re not doomed, you just need to take responsibility for how you manage it.
Remember, as humans we are designed to move; Our bodies thrive when we do, and so do our minds. Make it a priority and reap the benefits.