Recent research is beginning to show that sitting too much can severely compromise your health. How does this happen and what can you do to counteract the negative effects of sitting?
Peter Katzmarzyk, PHD, colleague at Pennington, the nations leading obesity research center says that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you spend most of your day sitting. Living an active life is what supports you in being healthy. “Regular exercising is not the same as being active. A person may hit the gym every day, but if he’s sitting a good deal of the rest of the time, he’s probably not leading an overall active life”.
It can be as simple as standing more. Retail sales associates who stand on their feet all day burn about 1,500 calories while on the job; a person behind a desk might expend roughly 1,000 calories. That could explain why some people gain 16 pounds on average within 8 months of starting a sedentary desk job; according to a study from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
There are many different research studies which conclude that being sedentary all day, no matter how much you might exercise, contributes to obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance as well as neck, shoulder and back issues. Do you sit all day at a desk? If so, you are encouraging muscle stiffness, poor balance and mobility, and lower back, neck and hip pain. Fascia is the tough connective tissue that covers all of your muscles. While it is pliable, it tends to “set” in the position your muscles are in most often. So if you sit most of the time, your fascia adapts to that position. When you sit a lot, your hip flexors shorten too which can cause poor posture and walking with a forward lean. When you spend too much time sitting, your glute muscles eventually forget how to “fire”, which can cause your pelvis to tilt forward, which puts stress on your spine and cause low back pain.
What can you do to help counteract the negative effects of sitting all day? Get up and move! Every 20 to 30 minutes get up and take a walk, stretch and reach your arms over your head, touch your toes and roll your shoulders and neck. And if you can, get a standing workstation so that you have the option of sitting or standing while working at the computer.