Nothing can be more relaxing than finally being able to rest your feet after being on them for a long while. But did you know that sitting too much can actually be unhealthy for you?
Sitting, unhealthy? What?! Well, with today’s desk jobs, couch surfing while binging on Netflix, and every other instance that people have to sit, you’re risking some major complications!
But don’t be scared! We’re not saying you can never sit again in your life. Just be smart about how long you sit for and the position that you are sitting in.
Cause if you don’t, here are some things that COULD, not saying will, but always COULD happen:
Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly during a long sit, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart. Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least.
The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carried glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, so the pancreas produces more and more, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases. A 2011 study found a decline in insulin response after just one day of prolonged sitting.
Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth. Another is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants that kill cell-damaging – and potentially cancer-causing – free radicals.
Trouble at the Top
Moving muscles pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and trigger the release of all sorts of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals. When we are sedentary for a long time, everything, slows, including brain function.
If most of your sitting occurs at a desk at work, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard or tilting your head to cradle a phone while typing can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.
Sore Shoulders and Back
The neck doesn’t slouch alone. Slumping forward overextends the should and back muscles as well. particularly the trapezius, which connects the neck and shoulders.
Spines that don’t move become inflexible and susceptible to damage in mundane activities, such as when you reach for a coffee up or bend to tie a shoe. When we move around, soft disks between vertebrae expand and contract like sponges, soaking up fresh blood and nutrients. When we sit for a long time, disks are squashed unevenly and lost sponginess. Collagen hardens around supporting tendons and ligaments.
People who sit ore are at greater risk for herniated lumbar disks. A muscle called the psoas travels through the abdominal cavity and, when it tightens, pulls the upper lumbar spine forward. Upper-body weight rests entirely on the ischial luberosity (sitting bones) instead of being distributed along the arch of the spine.
When you stand, move or even sit up straight, abdominal muscles keep you upright. But when you slump in a chair, they go unused. Tight back muscles and wimpy abs for a posture-wrecking alliance that can exaggerate the spine’s natural arch, a condition called hyperlordosis, or swayback.
Flexible hips help keep you balanced, but chronic sitters so rarely extend the hip flexor muscles in front that they become short and tight, limiting range of motion and stride length. Studies have found that decreased hip mobility is a main reason elderly people tend to fall.
Sitting requires your glutes to do absolutely nothing, and they get used to it. Soft glutes hurt your stability, your stability to push off and your ability to maintain a powerful stride.
Poor Circulation in Legs
Sitting for long periods of time slows blood circulation, which cases fluid to pool in the legs. Problems range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to dangerous blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Weight-bearing activities such as walking and running stimulate hip and lower-body bones to grow thicker, denser and stronger. Scientists partially attribute the recent surge in cases of osteoporosis to lack of activity.
But what can you do to help prevent these from happening to you?
Let’s start off by showing you the correct way to sit.
If you have to sit often, try to do it correctly. As Mom always said, “Sit straight up.”
- Not leaning forward
- Shoulders relaxed
- Elbows bent to 90 degrees
- Arms close to sides
- Lower back my be supported
- Feet flat on floor
Sitting on Something Wobbly
Such as an exercise ball or even a backless stool to force your core muscles to work. Sit up straight and keep your feet flat on the floor in front of you so they support about a quarter of your weight.
Walking During Commercials
When you’re watching TV, walk during the commercials. Even a snail-like pace of 1 MPH would burn twice the calories of sitting, and more vigorous exercise would be even better!
Stretching the Hip Flexors
Stretch your hip flexors for three minutes per side, once a day, like the image shown to the left.
Alternating Between Sitting and Standing
Sit and stand at your work station. If you can’t do that, stand up every half hour or so and walk around. Get those legs moving!
Try Yoga Poses
Try doing the “Cat-Cow Pose’ to help improve extension and flexion in your back.
So, if you find yourself needing to take a seat. Remember to sit with proper posture, and get up to move every once in a while!
If you’d like this information handy on a single sheet, come into our office and we have one ready for you!
**This blog is purely informational. Please do not use this to diagnose or treat. Speak to your doctor today.