Sitting….we all do it every single day and we are more sedentary than any previous generation but, is sitting for too long affecting our health?
According to research, the average British adult spends between 50 and 70 per cent of their day sitting down, whether it’s a commute to work, a day at the office, behind the wheel of a car or an evening slumped in front of the TV or computer (usually internet shopping or catching up with friends thanks to Facebook and Twitter!).
So what can we do, short of ditching all of the above and opting for a manual job?
To put it simply, “move yourself”. As human beings we are built to carry out functional movements such as stand, walk, run, bend, twist and turn. Our bodies function far better with a good amount of daily activity but this has been removed due to today’s modern lifestyle and we are forced, all too often, to sit still which is something we just weren’t built for.
But what exactly happens to our bodies when we sit for prolonged periods of time?
• Damage to organs – Sitting for a long time causes muscles to burn less fat and the blood to flow more sluggishly which in turn allows fatty acids to clog the heart more easily. Both of these can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and other problems.
• Over-productive pancreas – The pancreas produces insulin which is a hormone that our bodies use to transport glucose to cells for energy. As sitting is a low energy activity, our bodies think we are in energy storage mode which makes them resistant to insulin thus reducing the level of good glucose in the blood but increasing the levels of bad ones. All of this can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
• Obesity – Prolonged sitting slows our metabolism and may trigger us to eat more than we should. This can lead to weight gain.
• Colon cancer – Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk of cancers such as colon and endometrial cancer. When you’re sitting, the inactivity prompts changes in the body’s metabolism and can hinder its immune response.
• Deteriorating Muscles – When you sit all day at a 90 degree angle, the muscles in your hip flexors and hamstrings shorten and tighten and your buttocks stay stretched. Your abdominals also suffer since their function is to hold you upright as you move around but when you sit, can i buy nolvadex at gnc they relax and go unused. This also affects digestion as the area becomes compressed.
• Muscle tightness – Sitting for long periods of time, (especially at a desk) craning your neck forwards whilst looking at your computer screen or cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder over extends the shoulder and back muscles leading to muscular pain and imbalances.
• Poor posture – To maintain a good posture you need to be active. A healthy spine has a natural S-shape, but sitting pushes the lower lumbar curve into more of a C-shape. Over time and with prolonged periods of sitting, the postural muscles become weak and are unable to support the spine effectively. This can lead to back pain and further imbalances.
• Poor circulation – When we sit for long periods of time, the electrical activity in the legs and buttocks slows down blood circulation. This can cause fluid to pool in the legs and can lead to puffy ankles, varicose veins and even blood clots (DVT).
• Soft bones – Inactivity decreases bone mineral density which raises the risk of fractures and Osteoporosis. Any weight-bearing activity such as walking or running is good for our bones as it helps to increase their density and strength.
• Fatigue – When you move about, fresh blood and oxygen are pumped through the body which in turn triggers the release of endorphins (mood enhancing chemicals). Sitting for periods of time decreases the blood and oxygen supply to your muscles which accelerates muscle fatigue making you feel sluggish and tired.
So now we know this, what can we do?
• Make sure you take regular breaks from your desk to get up and move around.
• Try using an exercise ball or even a backless stool to activate your core muscles
• Exercise at lunch, even a short walk can be beneficial
• Try and stretch your hip flexors for three minutes per side once a day. Also try yoga poses to improve extension and flexion in your back.
• Instead of emailing someone several desks away, get up and speak to them in person
• Walk if possible when chatting on the phone
• Take the stairs wherever possible rather than the lift
• Play with the kids/pets
• When driving, stop every two hours for a walk to re-mobilise the body
• Try and be more active after work. Go for a workout, take a walk or potter around the house doing chores
The message is simple ladies. “Sit less and move more!”