We all do it. Some of us do it more than others. Some do it well and others do it poorly. But there is no question in the fact that we as a human race in the 21st Century sit way too much.
Our evolutionary background required us to move and exert ourselves quite often to find food, shelter, and to simply survive. We naturally spent most of the day outdoors in the sun walking, hunting, gathering, and performing various physical tasks. We didn’t know this as exercise it was just our primal instinct to survive. It was a way of life.
After the industrial revolution, and the introduction of computers into the workplace things have change. They were supposed to free up our time, to give us more time to enjoy life and family. Hopefully outdoors. But in reality it has made us a slave to our desks. We no longer go down the hallway to have a conversation we just shoot off an email to get our answer. A study by Medibank, found that the average office worker spent 77% of their waking day sitting (that is a huge 14 hours per day). They would sit to eat, relax, watch television, travel and of course sit to work.
Researchers in recent years have formed a strong consensus with our health and the amount of time you spend sitting. In short, the more time you spend sitting, the shorter and less healthy your life will tend to be.
Modern society is having a dire impact on our health. We spend way too much time sitting on our butts and indoors. Typical Australians are vitamin D deficient, overweight and spend 8 hours per day sitting.
Health concerns in regards to sitting are cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, obesity, headaches and of course chronic back pain in the shoulders and low back.
Even worse, sitting can shorten your life. Recent studies from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Asia found an association between increased sedentary time and the risk of early death.
So most of us are aware that we need to move and perform some sort of exercise to help support good health. But that excessive sitting time could still be even harmful if you’re achieving the recommended guidelines for exercise (30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, five days a week). A large U.S. study involving 100,000 adults found those that sat for more than six hours per day had a 40 percent greater risk of death over the next 15 years than those who sat for less than three hours per day.
This effect occurred regardless of whether they participated in exercise or not. In fact some researchers even suggested that people who exercised intensely (marathon runners) were more likely to be sedentary when they were not exercising. They assume their training regime protected them from the harmful effects of sitting when they were not exercising.
So what do we have to do to change it? We need to move like our ancestors – become ‘organic movers’. This means incorporating physical activity throughout your day in addition to performing distinct periods of exercise.
We should try and aim for standing or walking for about 50 percent of the day, and try not sitting for more than two hours at a time without taking a short standing or walking break. If your job involves sitting for long periods, here are some ways to try and accomplish this:
1. Work at a standing desk. They are starting to become more prevalent in workplaces, and the potential health benefits in such as reduced absenteeism, lower health care costs and higher productivity is showing;
2. Work at a treadmill desk. This is just taking standing to the next level;
3. Walk or bicycle to work. Just getting exercise into our routine and minimising the static seating posture;
4. Standing or walking breaks. Try and stand up for at least two minutes every hour and move the body from head to toe. If possible, take a brief walk or do some light stretching. If you have trouble remembering this try and set an alarm on your phone or computer, or look at specific apps for this;
5. Stand up at the meetings. It can reduce sitting time and if you all did it, it wouldn’t look so out of place;
6. Sit more actively. The static sitting position is one of the worse things for the back. Things just don’t move when in this position. Consider sitting on a stability disc or exercise ball or a stool like the swapper. This will force you to make small postural changes whilst you sit constantly, which might just mitigate the harmful effects of being sedentary. These micro-movements can add up to a significant expenditure of calories throughout the day and keep the ligaments, muscles, and discs in the body moving and functioning;
7. Take the stairs. Instead of the escalator or lift;
8. Park further away. Instead of parking right outside the store or office place.
Your body was made to move – to bend, squat, stretch, reach, walk, skip, hop, and jump. Sitting for hours on end is perhaps one of the most horrible side effects of modern life. So the evidence is clear, get up and start moving.
If you would like more information or would like to book an appointment at Neurohealth Chiropractic – please call the clinic on 9905 9099 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form from our website www.neurohealthchiro.com.au
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This article is written by Dr. Steven Cannon, Chiropractor – Neurohealth Chiropractic