Sitting Pretty: Sitting and Wellness

Are you in good health yet exhausted at the end of the day? After long commutes, hectic days sitting in meetings, crunching on your computer, and then finally, some down time relaxing on the couch, you may blame stress for your fatigue, yet inactivity is probably what leaves you drained. In addition to packing on pounds, long stretches sitting can lead to weak and shortened abdominal muscles, compromise your lower back, and even stimulate disease promoting processing in your body.

It’s no wonder numerous studies have shown that people who sit for long periods of time have two and three times the rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. You’ve heard that 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough? No. Newer studies have found that an hour of exercising daily still isn’t sufficient to reverse the effects of sitting for long stretches of time. So what can you do? Some experts point out that there is a misconception that actively exercising is the only way to make a healthy difference. Thus, the good news is that studies show that even standing or engaging in non-exercise activities – suck as pacing while on the phone – can help.

Stand up. Move around. Take the stairs. Sitting in your chair or car for long periods of time is harmful for many reasons. Your circulation, respiration, and digestion stop functioning normally and interfere with your systemic health. Worse, if you have poor posture, your spine is bent and can strain the spinal discs, muscles, and joints —often causing back pain and spinal degeneration. Hemorrhoids and exhaustion add to the list.

Modern times led to more sedentary lifestyles. Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson both had standing desks. So intellectually, there is really no reason for us to keep sitting – even with a computer. If you don’t have an ergonomic desk chair, consider sitting on an exercise ball – you will be forced to sit up straight in order to keep from rolling. Walk to your co-workers desk instead of e-mailing.

Consciously consider all the ways you can keep moving throughout the day. If you are overweight or excessively tired, visit your doctor for more assistance.

For further resources, see:

John Mamana, MD

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