When you really add it up, how much of your day do you spend sitting?
Picture your day. If you commute to and from work by car you are most likely sitting. If you have an office job, you likely sit in front of a computer. If you are a student, you sit in the classroom.
And it’s not just during the day. When you get home you probably sit to eat dinner and then head to your comfy couch to, once again, SIT and watch your favorite television show. Before you know it, it’s bedtime and this routine start all over again the next morning.
This is a typical day for most of us and you may even ask, “What’s so bad about that?” Well, sitting time has been associated with an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Recent studies have suggested that mortality is associated with television viewing, sitting during leisure time, sitting in a car, sitting during main activities (e.g., work, school, and housework), and occupations that involve prolonged sitting.
A study published in 2012 looked at the relationship between total sitting time and mortality. After adjusting for sex, age, educational level, marital status, urban or rural residence, physical activity, BMI, smoking status, self-rated health, and receiving help with daily tasks for a long-term illness or disability they found inactive participants with high levels of sitting (>8 hours a day) had the highest mortality rate, and the strong relationship of increased sitting time to mortality persisted, even among participants with relatively high levels of physical activity. What does all of that mean? Even if you are an active, healthy person, the effects of sitting persist.
So what can you do to combat against this? The detrimental effects of prolonged sitting can be slowed down by taking a few small steps.
1. Sit less.
Try standing up during work in 30 minutes increments. Challenge your co-workers to do the same. Each day you can try to stand a little longer. Who knows? Before long you might not sit at all! Take a walk on your lunch break, or if you want to go one step further you can use your lunch break as chance to work out.
2. When you do sit, sit correctly.
Don’t slouch. Keep good posture and engage your core.
Lift your chair so your hips are above your knees. Sit on the edge of the chair. Now it gets a little tricky. Focus on sitting in between your sacrum and your sits bones (ischial tuberosity). So what does that mean? Tuck
your hips underneath you and so your back is in a “c” – that is sitting on
your sacrum. Now arch your back, and you will feel yourself sitting on
your sits bones. In between the “c” and the arch is where you ideally want
to be. You should feel your abs engage and the support of your back. Also adjust your shoulders down and back.
3. Increase physical activity.
Modifying your work or lifestyle can make the biggest difference. There are many ways you can increase your physical activity throughout the day. Try taking stairs instead of an elevator or the escalator or park further away to increase walking distance. You may even consider joining a gym to get a good workout in. The World Health Organization recommends that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of at least moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week to reduce the risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and certain cancers.
Moral of the story? Sit less, move more, and live longer!
By: John Kim, PT, DPT
John Kim received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and his doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. John enjoys working with the orthopaedic and sports population across all age ranges and prefers a whole body, hands-on manual approach using innovative techniques. John’s background in gymnastics and his practice of weightlifting, and circuit and interval training have helped give him insight into the goals and challenges of his patients. John was introduced to React Physical Therapy while completing his final clinical rotation at UIC. He decided to join the React team to accomplish his goal of helping all his patients meet their full physical performance level through education and individual attention.
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