Too Much Sitting Is Hazardous To Your Health!

Over the past few centuries, society in general has moved from a largely farm based lifestyle to one where people mostly sit throughout the day.

While you would think that sitting puts you at less risk for injury compared to say the daily grind of working the field of a farm, there is a growing trend of office workplace injuries related to neck, shoulder, back and nerve injuries.  On top of that current research shows that sitting for long periods of times is a risk factor for a variety of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart attack, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and even early death!

According to the Healthy and Active Living Research Group in Ottawa, Canadian adults spend, on average, three-quarters of their waking hours each day sitting or reclining. This static behaviour is rubbing off on your kids, too. On average, Canadian children spend two-thirds of their daytime hours sedentary.

Interestingly, this seems even higher than our U.S. counterparts as shown in the infographic below:

So what can you do to take a ‘stand’ against sitting too much all day?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Use a Standing Desk.  You can actually burn 40% more calories while working from an upright position!  As well, sitting for prolonged periods can increase you triglyceride levels, decrease your HDLs and decrease your insulin sensitivity.  The seated position is actually very compressive on your spine and discs too.  There are commercially available standing workstations…talk to your HR department, Health & Safety or manager about if this is feasible.
  2. Take frequent walk breaks.  Many people are already doing this but there are still lots who don’t and simply sit at their desk for their breaks or lunch time.  Even quick regular walks help with circulation, refocuses your brain and helps burn fat.  As well, it prevents muscle and joint stiffness from settling in.
  3. Perform desk exercises.  Schedule your work breaks to include some simple stretches.  I have a patient who sets a computer alarm to remind him to take a break every hour.  He then follows a simple 5 minute routine to stretch his neck, arms, shoulders and lower back.  Office Fitness Break Reminder is a simple and free program you can download to your work computer!
  4. Try an exercise ball chair.  Sitting on one of these large fitness balls instead of a regular office chair helps to engage your core muscles and improve balance.  However, some recent research indicates that sitting all day on the ball isn’t a good thing either.  Try swapping back and forth between the office chair and the ball during the work day.
  5. Have active meetings.  Why not considering shunning the typical sit-around, boardroom meeting and try bouncing ideas around with team members during a walk outside.  The fresh air and activity may bring new perspectives on business and efficiency.  And you will all burn more calories while you are at it!

Don’t let a sedentary lifestyle ruin your health!  Simple changes to your daily routine can yield massive benefits!

Until next time,

Dr. Keith

 

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