Sitting Syndrome- The Truth About Sitting Down
Our world is very different to what it was 50 years, 100 years and 1000 years ago.
Sitting is so incredibly prevalent in society today, we don’t even question how long we are doing it.
We see everyone else doing it, so we just assume this is normal behaviour.
This is common behaviour, but it should not be seen as normal behaviour.
Most of us recognize how much less physically active, fit and capable we have become over the last few generations. What people don’t recognize though are the devastating effects this lack of exercise has had on our health. Outside of sleep, the human body and brain need almost constant physical movement.
We are designed for movement, constant movement, finding shelter, finding food, in fact we should be expending as much energy a day as walking 16 kilometers per day every day.
Research is now showing prolonged sitting is contrary to our biological and genetic requirements for health. Hard as it may be to believe, sitting creates the same increased risk for the development of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes as smoking does.
So, when you hear sitting is the new smoking, don’t laugh it off because it is.
Research shows that on average, industrial humans sit for well over half of their waking hours.
The British Chiropractic association recently reported that the average person now spends a full 32 years of their life sitting!!!!!!!
We live a life of sitting at our desks at school most of the day. At work we sit at our desks and stare at a computer screen for hours. Many of us also sit in our cars or on public transport to take us where we need to go. Then after a hard day of sitting, with the associated poor postures, we collapse in front of the TV on the couch to continue this sitting syndrome. It’s a tough cycle to break.
The extent of our physical activity and energy expenditure deficiency becomes even more alarming when you look at the total amount of physical activity performed during an average day.
The energy expenditure for contemporary Westerners is about 38% that of our ancestors.
The average industrialized human has total daily energy expenditure values equivalent to the resting metabolic rate values of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This means that the average hunter-gatherer burned more calories during a day of rest than the average industrialized human does during a day of “normal” activity.
Even if you exercise intensely for an hour a day this is still not enough to counteract the damage caused by prolonged sitting.
The average Australian sits more than 9.3 hours per day every day.
So how does sitting impact your health?
- Causes back and neck pain. Sitting, places increased pressure on your lumbar vertebrae and discs increasing the likelihood of injury. Staring at a screen also increases forward head posture causing neck strain and headaches.
- Loss of brain power. Have you ever finished a 10-hour stint at the desk and felt invigorated? Of course not. Even though you have been “resting” all day you feel worn out, foggy in the head. The reason being is you have drained your brain of energy. For our brain to be charged it requires movement of the limbs and the body. That’s why when you come home from a morning walk you feel energized and ready to start your day; you have charged your battery (brain).
- Organ damage. This is the bad stuff; we should really be worried about. As soon as we sit, the electrical activity in our muscles shuts off, calorie burning drops to 1 calorie per minute, enzymes that help to break down fat, drops by 90%. After 2 hours of sitting, good cholesterol drops by 20%, after 24 hours, insulin effectiveness drops by 24% and the risk of diabetes rises.
- Muscle Degeneration. Forget about those rock-hard abs, when you sit those muscles go unused. One of the other muscles hardest hit are the glutes. So if you want a flabby stomach and a big butt keep on sitting.
- Weight gain. Now this is obvious. Anyone who sits for more than 9 hours a day is not silly enough to think it is great for the waistline. In fact, obese people sit for more than 2 and ½ hours a day more than thin people. Between 1990 and 2010 while exercise rates stayed the same, obesity doubled because time spent sitting increased by 8%.
So, what can I do to help myself?
- Get an adjustable height desk. Standing is far better for you than sitting. It allows you to move more freely and stretch while still performing your work.
- Move constantly, stretch while in the chair if need be. Neck, shoulders, calves, quads, lower back. Look over your left shoulder, look over your right shoulder, shrug your shoulders. Perform this every hour.
- Sit on a balance disc. This will allow more movement in the lumbar spine. You can sway from side to side, rock forwards and back allowing constant movement in your spine. You can also put it under your feet, exercising your legs as well.
- Squat before you sit. Stand just in front of your chair and pretend to sit down, stand up again just before you touch the chair. Do 10 repetitions of these squats every 2 hours.
- Pretend you are walking stairs, even when you are sitting. Stomp for feet for a minute every 30 minutes.
- While sitting, straighten your legs and contract all the muscles in your legs then draw the alphabet with your left foot, then your right foot. Do this once per hour.
- Every 20 minutes reach for the ceiling.
- Every break you get, social, lunch, meetings, make sure you walk and stretch.
We are never going to be able to not sit. What we have to do is adopt behaviours to counteract the deadly effects of prolonged sitting.
If you would like help or assistance with any conditions you think may be associated with sitting please contact the clinic.
Book an appointment online at https://healthengine.com.au/chiropractor/vic/brighton/brighton-wellness-group/s39148
Sitting Syndrome- The Truth About Sitting DownSitting Syndrome- The Truth About Sitting DownSitting Syndrome- The Truth About Sitting DownSitting Syndrome- The Truth About Sitting Down