By Taylor Liu, Volunteer Blog Contributor
Have you ever heard the phrase “Sitting is the New Smoking?” Though we’d like to hope that’s just an exaggeration, we cannot deny that over the years we’ve become increasingly adapted to a sedentary lifestyle – and with this change comes a multitude of health complications that research has started to reveal. As our eyes become attached to our screens, so too do our bottoms to the seats of our chairs.
Now what exactly makes sitting for long periods dangerous to our health? Sitting isn’t exactly a dangerous activity, but the act of remaining still for too long can have detrimental effects on our health in the long run:
- Studies have shown that sitting for too long increases the likelihood of the onset of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, as well as the risk of a heart attack.
- Sitting for long periods, especially with poor posture, can lead to back pain, sciatica (strain on a large nerve that runs from our back through our hip and leg), and other joint and skeletal disorders.
- Though exercising for only 20 minutes a day may be beneficial, and is ultimately better than no exercise at all, it isn’t enough to reduce the effects of sitting for hours on end.
At a glance, a list of these problems may prove to be simple and unconvincing, but let’s take a closer look at the implications. When we remain immobile, our body’s metabolism can drop due to the lack of a proper circulation. Our sitting posture creates bends in our body that can slow blood flow and electrical activity, reducing sensitivity to an important hormone known as insulin, which acts as a sort of “cleanup crew” for our bloodstream. After we eat, glucose can become highly concentrated in our blood, and it is up to insulin to remove glucose from the blood to the muscles and liver for storage. If we slow our metabolism and reduce the activity of insulin, our blood sugar levels can gradually rise to unhealthy levels. If this becomes prolonged, it may ultimately lead to obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Reduced blood sugar uptake may also result in irregular blood clotting and the failure of our body to take care of these blood clots, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Though exercise is a good start, it may not be enough to keep these problems from persisting –thankfully, there are a number of little adjustments and habits we can make in our daily lives to promote a healthier lifestyle.
- Set a personal reminder or timer to get up every 30-40 minutes. Programs and apps like Google Calendar, Forest, and the Pomodoro Timer are ways to not only remind yourself to get up and stretch, but can also be used to increase productivity. A quick shake of the leg and change in posture can help get the blood flowing through your body better.
- Take the opportunity to stand whenever you can. You can get up and pace during phone calls or opt to stand during your daily commute if you rely on public transportation.
- If you can’t stand up for a break, try shifting your body position. Rolling back the shoulders and stretching the neck and arms down to your fingertips can help encourage blood flow to areas previously restricted due to poor posture.
With these minor adjustments to your day, you can help curb the effects of a desk job while ultimately promoting a healthier lifestyle and a happier body.
If you or someone you know is experiencing health issues or pain associated with excessive sitting, call our appointment line at (510) 770-8040 to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors or one of our primary care clinicians.
To keep in touch with Tri-City Health Center, click here.