If you are like most Americans, you spend much of your day sitting. Whether it be sitting behind a computer, sitting in a car, sitting to eat, sitting to watch TV, sitting to read or write, or sitting just to relax. That is a lot of sitting. We do this day after day for year after year. Do we ever ask ourselves how this may impact our health? In recent years research has set out to figure out exactly what, if any, impact prolonged sitting has on our health.
They have concluded that sitting is the new smoking! As a matter of fact, Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic says, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” That’s bold so let’s examine the facts. According to research in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of our day is spent on our behinds. The research conducted was a review and summary of 47 other studies which found that those who sit for prolonged periods of time for much of their life had higher rates of death from ALL CAUSES. Maybe the most shocking finding was this included people who exercised regularly. To put plainly, we cannot outwork a sedentary lifestyle.
The health effects of over sitting are wide ranging as well. It is well known being sedentary is detrimental to cardiovascular health, but it doesn’t stop there. Sedentary behavior also increases rates of cancer, diabetes, and even dementia. It alters the body’s metabolism on sugar and fat, thereby leading to a further increase risk of obesity, diabetes, and poor cardiovascular function. You burn 30% more calories when standing versus sitting.
So, what can you do? As we have seen, exercise alone is not the answer. It certainly doesn’t hurt but the real key is reducing the amount of time we spend sitting. This doesn’t mean we need to stand all day. Our bodies were meant to move. The more breaks we can take throughout the day, the better. It is recommended to take a break every thirty minutes. This break should include changing positions, taking a few steps around the office, doing some posture exercises/stretches, and walking to the break room for some water and/or healthy snacks. Other changes we can make include investing in a height-changing desk. This is a desk that can raise or lower to accommodate either a standing or sitting position. Some choose to sit on an exercise ball instead of a traditional desk chair which encourages activation of the core muscles.
Many times, chronic sitting can lead to chronic aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, and low back. If this is the case, chiropractic can help alleviate not only the aches and pains, but also ensures the structure and function of the spine is healthy. If you or a loved one suffer from the new smoking and would like to see if chiropractic can help don’t hesitate to give us a call for a complimentary consultation.