I am sure the title is going to spark a reaction like:
- “Are you kidding me?”
- “How can this possibly be a health factor?”
- “What happened to sit down and take a load off?”
- “Ugh… you can not be serious!”
Well, maybe not as serious as the title claims. Sensationalism seems to sell articles. The above title is a perfect example of bugling a health issue that is facing a major part of the population that sits for great lengths of time through their day.
Professionals, myself included, are skeptical that it kills as many people as smoking or has the same health consequences as smoking, yet there is enough evidence that shows sitting for prolonged amounts of time is harmful to our overall well being.
The list is extensive, so let’s take a peek at some of the harmful effects listed By Dr. Levine who is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and the creator of the title above: Sitting Is The New Smoking.
Let’s take a peek at some of the Harmful Effects:
Poor blood circulation: Sitting for prolonged amounts can cause blood circulation to slow down and cause blood to pool in legs contributing to the development of varicose veins, swollen ankles and even blood clots like deep vein thrombosis
Posture problems: Sitting too long develops tight hip flexors, which in turn cause lengthened glute muscles to compensate. The development of tight psoas muscle can also pull on the spine causing back issues. Sitting will also draw shoulders forward for tightened chest muscles in the bent over position that desk work requires and also puts individuals in a kyphotic position of the thorax, causing back issues.
Anxiety and depression: The lack of movement reduces your endorphins which is the good feeling response to moving and exercises.
Metabolic syndrome: When there is a lack of movement from sitting for long times can slow down metabolic processes which effect blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, and the processing of body fat.
Chronic pain: When you sit for long periods the body develops bad postural alignment. Muscles shorten, others lengthen to compensate and the natural curvature of the spine is altered and can cause nerve issues such as sciatica issues.
Remember that sitting does not only occur in the workforce but also at home watching TV, eating meals, riding in the car, etc.. So putting them together and you are accumulating enough sitting to affect a healthy lifestyle. Do not panic! There are preventive measures you can implement to reduce the effects of sitting.
Take a break every thirty minutes from sitting. Get up and walk around, do some stretches for ten minutes or so before sitting back down. Repeat the process throughout your day
Stand when talking on the phone or watching TV or sit on a physio ball and roll your hips side to side, do circles with your hips or lightly bounce up and down to keep the circulation moving. Not a bad, moderate form of exercise either. Here are some websites if you are interested in researching some ergonomic tools for the work or home space.
Invest in a standing desk:
There are also sitting options:
- Ergonomic Accordianseat/ my favorite @ Thegrommet.com
- Ergonomic Ball Chair